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As contract outsourced to Turkey...

Union fury as Alexander Dennis confirms 160 job cuts

Alexander Dennis

Workers at Alexander Dennis want the PM to confirm a green bus deal (pic: Terry Murden)

Alexander Dennis (ADL), the UK’s largest bus and coach builder, is to axe at least 160 jobs at its Falkirk and Larbert bases in Scotland while outsourcing a contract from Berlin to a plant in Turkey.

The Scottish factories together employ 850 workers and the Unite union has said that the final jobs cull will likely exceed 200 jobs after the company fully reveals its restructuring plans.

The company announced last month that 650 jobs across the group were under threat.

Unite said it has discovered that the job cuts were planned before the pandemic and is now calling for government support for ADL to be conditional on keeping jobs in the UK.

Formal consultation over 650 job cuts at Falkirk, Scarborough and Guildford is expected to begin within days. The company confirmed that 200 jobs are likely to go at Guildford and 90 at the plant in Scarborough.

The union says they are part of a restructuring strategy planned and approved by ADL’s parent company, the New Flyer Industries Group, before the health crisis. 

The implementation of this strategy, NFI Forward, was announced to investors in North America on 6 August, which includes plans to review and potentially close a UK manufacturing site.

ADL President & Managing Director Paul Davies said: “We have no choice but to implement these tough decisions to protect the company’s future health. We remain confident that the situation will improve in time, and we are well placed to take advantage when that happens, but right now we have to adjust to our new economic reality.”

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Unite has also discovered that ADL plans to outsource a large bus building contract for Berlin to a company in Turkey.

Alexander Dennis built two Enviro500 test vehicles in 2015 for Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) which in 2018 said it wanted 200 to operate around the German capital. BVG was ultimately seeking 430 worth a total contract value of €220m.

However, Alexander Dennis’s failure to confirm where the work would be done fuelled uncertainty over it coming to Falkirk and this has dragged on for almost two years.

The company said: “Concerning Unite’s reference to the arrangements for the manufacture of our Berlin landmark contract, these are entirely disconnected from the actions we are being forced to take in the UK as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ongoing lack of clarity over the future trade relationship between the UK and the European Union threatens import tariffs and other costs which would make this and potential other European contracts commercially unviable if manufactured in the UK.

“As in other parts of the world where UK manufacture is not feasible, we have had to make contingency plans to ensure the contract remains viable.

“We welcome Unite bringing the topic of build location for prestigious European contracts firmly back on the table as it highlights the need for clarity on the UK’s future trade relationship with the European Union.”

Unite has been calling for the prime minister’s promised order of 4,000 new low emission buses to be brought forward, to help the bus and coach industry to recover from Covid-19.

Unite Scotland is demanding this along with a number of other strategic interventions by government at a UK and Scottish level including:

  • The UK Government immediately bringing forward the promised funding for 4,000 low-emission buses through a £3 billion fund. 
  • The Scottish Government enacting the Just Transition Committee’s recommendation to rapidly roll-out spending of the £500 million committed to prioritise buses.
  • The establishment of a Scottish-wide bus scrappage scheme to replace older diesel buses with low emission and zero-emission buses.
  • The immediate procuring of a fleet of green buses for use at COP26 in Glasgow next November.
  • The acceleration of orders to bus manufacturers and the supply chain through the new Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, which will provide £9 million this year to help bus operators invest in ultra-low emission vehicles.

Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: “The news announced by Alexander Dennis which confirms that it plans to axe more than 160 highly-skilled workers at its Falkirk and Larbert sites is devastating.

“Unite will not allow these savage cuts to go unopposed and we will fight this every step of the way.  We have repeatedly warned the Scottish and UK Governments of the parent company New Flyer Industries’ intention to drastically curtail the manufacturing capacity of the sites across the UK and to outsource major contracts to Turkey.

“There are a number of measures which the Scottish and UK Government can and must enact with immediate effect.

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“Unite is clear that any public money including new orders must be conditional on the company retaining jobs and keeping work in Scotland, and across the UK.

“The blame for this situation ultimately lies with the parent company based in North America.

“If these premature and needless job cuts go ahead then it will have a substantial impact on the nation’s green manufacturing capacity and make a mockery of any just green recovery.”

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