French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom will reportedly be cutting up to 600 jobs at its factory in Derby, UK, after months of concern over the future of the factory in the face of a lack of contracts and the government’s delay in delivering HS2.
An Alstom spokesperson said: “No committed way forward has yet been found and therefore it is with deep regret that we must now begin to plan for a significant reduction in activity at Derby by entering a period of collective consultation on potential redundancies at Litchurch Lane.”
The Unite union’s East Midlands regional secretary, Paresh Patel, promised to leave “no stone unturned” in the fight to keep jobs if redundancies are announced at the historic factory.
He said: “Unite has been actively in discussions with Alstom for months as a result of the challenges facing the business due to problems in the government’s rail procurement supply line and lack of industrial strategy for UK rail manufacturing.
“This is a highly skilled workforce which should not be in the current position through no fault of its own and they are facing a highly uncertain future due to the government’s dithering and failings.”
Alstom had previously warned in September that its Litchurch Lane Works factory, which employs around 2,000 people was under threat of closure due to a lack of contracted work.
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HS2 delays and changes have wrought havoc with the factory’s production schedule, as the French firm won the high-speed line’s rolling stock contract.
But those contracts are not yet active, and have left a three-year gap in Alstom Derby’s workload.
The Litchurch factory began locomotive manufacturing in the 1840’s (for the Midland Railway) and is one of Alstom’s largest production sites across the world. Alstom bought Canadian manufacturer Bombardier‘s rail business in 2021.
As reported by Derbyshire Live, factory workers are currently working on contracts such as the construction of a monorail in Egypt, however, these contracts will finish in the next year.
Unite the Union, which represents a number of factory staff, said Alstom has been in discussions with the Department of Transport to request refurbishment contracts for current UK rolling stock be pushed forward, allowing Alstom to compete on them and fill the gap in its order books.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The government needs to get its head out of the sand and bring forward these contracts to improve existing rolling stock immediately.
“It is frankly unbelievable that they have not already agreed to this, in order to safeguard thousands of highly skilled jobs held by Unite members at Alstom. They now need to do the right thing and I can assure you that Unite will be making sure that they are held to account for their actions.”
As reported by Derbyshire Live, Alstom executives said they are collaborating with the government and local partners, notably Derby City Council, to develop viable short-term solutions.
The future of the factory currently remains unclear. Derby City Council have noted that any further update would need to come directly from Alstom.
This announcement follows the UK Government naming Derby as the “home” of Great British Railways. The government described Derby as a city that brings the track and train together and delivers high-skilled jobs to its people.
Updated 13 November with additional reporting by Noah Bovenizer