The government’s decision not to give the £1.5 billion contract to build Thameslink carriages to the Bombardier firm is devastating for Derby.
It has provoked anger across the city as thousands of jobs are now at risk.
More than 20,000 people have signed a petition against the decision. And the RMT and Unite unions are organising a march next Saturday 23 July, which promises to the biggest protest in Derby in years.
The 446 full-time workers and 983 agency staff at the plant are now to receive redundancy notices.
Unions fear that the plant’s closure will mean a total of 12,000 other workers being thrown out of work at the 100 workplaces supplying Bombardier.
Right wing papers, such as the Daily Express, are attempting to blame the Tories’ decision to hand the contract to Siemens in Germany on European Union laws.
But this is all about the government’s commitment to the free market—and paying the least amount of money for any contract, in the short term anyway.
Wherever the Thameslink contract went, there are plenty of jobs for the workers at Bombardier to do. Britain’s rail stock is in desperate need of renewal, for instance.
And the firm has made massive profits, which could be used to keep people at work instead of lining the pockets of directors. Bombardier made global profits of $769 million in the year to January 2011.
Its directors in Britain raked in just over £2 million last year, with the highest paid getting £528,000.
The unions and the workforce must resist this jobs cull. A demonstration is a good start, but it will take more action to force the government to change its mind.
Meetings with ministers and a legal challenge to the decision will not be enough.
A fight involving strikes and sit-ins at the plant would rock the company and the government, and inspire millions who face similar issues in their workplaces. Local activists have been campaigning against the government’s plans.
Socialist Worker supporters handed out a leaflet calling for a fight to save jobs to staff on two shifts last week. “People tooted their horns in support at us as they left the plant,” said Sue.
The Right to Work campaign has organised a meeting for Tuesday of next week to discuss what can be done to stop the cuts.
Save Derby Railway Rally. March from Bass’s recreation ground to rally at Silk Mill Museum. Assemble 10am, Saturday 23 July. Supported by Unite, RMT, GMB, TSSA.
Support Derby Bombardier workers, 7pm, Tuesday 19 July, Quad, Market Place, Derby