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Letter from works boss

Matheson ‘failed to find promised orders for rail works’

Michael Matheson

Michael Matheson accused of broken promise

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has been accused of failing to act on promises to help save the threatened Wabtec rail depot in Ayrshire.

Wabtec boss Andy Derbyshire has revealed in a letter to Labour leader Richard Leonard that in December he met Mr Matheson who offered to support the company.

Mr Matheson ordered his officials to find more work for the facility in Kilmarnock.

However, no new work was forthcoming and the Wabtec works now faces closure with the potential loss of 100 jobs. The company announced last week that it intends to consolidate its operations at the much bigger rail works in Doncaster.

Mr Derbyshire says in his letter that the consultation process on closure and jobs losses would have started earlier “but I held off as Mr Matheson asked his team to help us to secure more work.”

Mr Leonard said: “If Mr. Derbyshire’s account of events is correct, then Michael Matheson has big questions to answer over how he and his department failed to take action to save Wabtec despite knowledge of the dire financial situation the rail works were in.

Richard Leonard in Airdrie

Richard Leonard: ‘big questions’ (pic: Terry Murden)

“The prospect of Wabtec shutting the rail works in Kilmarnock, at the cost of around 100 jobs, will have dire consequences for the workers left unemployed and the local economy, particularly in this time of national crisis.

“Scottish Labour believes that the Wabtec works in Kilmarnock are a crucial component in Scotland’s manufacturing base.

“Today I am calling on Michael Matheson to get his finger out and investigate all options available to keep the site running, and that must include bringing it into public ownership.”

Letter

Dear Mr Leonard,

Re: Closure of Wabtec, Kilmarnock

Thank you for your letter dated 2nd of April with regards to the Kilmarnock announcement, and thank you for your offer of support. The consultation process has now started, and this will continue for 45 days.

For your information, I met with Mr Matheson and his team on the 4th of December 2019 to discuss the Kilmarnock financial situation detailing what could happen if we didn’t secure more work.

In reality, I should have made the announcement and started the consultation process in January 2020 but I held off as Mr Matheson asked his team to help us to secure more work, combined with what my team were also trying to secure and to better understand the Scot RAIL HST programme, which includes the Kilmarnock facility. Unfortunately, nothing has resulted so far from any of these meetings or conversations.

In terms of workload, the Northern 150’s trains contract will finish in May/June this year. We have recently lost our major Freight wheels contract for Kilmarnock and have been unsuccessful with the class 170 CX heavy maintenance contract. Even if we were successful with these contracts it would not have been enough to change this decision.



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