Alstom: MP calls government 'negligent' over jobs risk

Alstom, Derby
Louise Haigh, shadow secretary of state for transport, visited Alstom after its announcement [BBC]

The shadow transport secretary has called the government "totally negligent" over 1,300 train manufacturing jobs at risk in Derby.

Louise Haigh visited train builder Alstom on Tuesday after it announced it was resuming a redundancy process at its Litchfield Lane factory.

The firm says it has "no meaningful workload" until 2026.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the government's "top priority" was ensuring workforces were supported.

Ms Haigh said the government knew of the challenges the firm were facing, and it was "totally negligent that [it] had allowed Alstom to get into this position".

Mr Harper posted an open letter on X on Friday saying the government had been working with Alstom "over many months" and encouraged the firm to keep investing in its Derby site and seek export orders.

But some staff fear the site, which has been in Derby for 147 years, is past the point of being saved.

Darren Spencer, a production manager at the site, said the situation was "devastating" for staff and cuts would impact surrounding businesses, such as a local cob shop and newsagents.

"We've got nothing, we've got no work, we haven't got anything. We haven't got a nut and bolt to put together," he said.

"People forget about all the other places that are going to get hit by this. It's massive."

Robert Kniveton, a team leader welder, said welding stopped about two months ago.

"This is a massively deep trough, and we can see no light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

The Unite union warned thousands more jobs could be lost due to the impact on the wider supply chain, but Ms Haigh said it was "not too late to save [the] site".

In his open letter to Ms Haigh, Mr Harper said the matter was "complex" and called the suggestion that the challenges related to the prime minister's decision to cut future phases of HS2 "incorrect".

'Knock-on effects'

He wrote: "Train manufacturing is a competitive, commercial market which means there can be no guarantee of orders for individual manufacturers, and they need to factor this into their business planning and bidding decisions."

Ms Haigh's visit comes as the East Midlands Chamber called on the government to act urgently to "safeguard production" at the site.

Scott Knowles, chief executive of the chamber, said: "We know that as a country we have new rolling stock needs that can be met by the highly skilled workforce we have in Derby and its wider regional supply chain.

"Any inability to iron out the gaps in orders would represent a significant failure of national planning and have detrimental knock-on effects in Derby, Derbyshire and across the country.

Mr Knowles added: "This can't be allowed to happen - it is imperative government intervention is stepped up so we can get a workable resolution that protects jobs in the sector now and for the long-term future."

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