A leading rail union is considering whether to take legal action over the decision not to award Bombardier the Thameslink contract in a bid to save 1,400 jobs at the train manufacturer.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said it was taking legal advice over a potential challenge on the grounds that the tendering process for the £1.4 billion contract was “loaded” against the UK workforce.
Canadian-owned Bombardier lost out to German group Siemens in June to become the preferred bidder to build 1,200 carriages intended to run on the Thameslink route between Bedford and Brighton. The coalition government said at the time that the Siemens bid, which will see carriages being built in Germany rather than Derby where Bombardier is based, was a better deal for taxpayers.
Bombardier subsequently announced that it was reviewing its UK operations and said it planned to cut 446 permanent jobs and 983 temporary contract staff. The issue was that most of its current contract work was due to come to an end in the autumn after it also lost out to Japan’s Hitachi on a huge UK inter-city express train building contract, it said.
The news of the job losses sparked a widespread outcry, however, with unions and the Opposition condemning the Siemens decision and calling on the government to think again.
RMT leader Bob Crow said: “The failure to factor in the wider economic impact in East Midlands makes a total mockery of the Government’s core claim that Siemens represented best value for the British taxpayer. If that was the grounds for killing off Bombardier, then clearly it was based on a total lie and that may be grounds for a challenge.”
The union has warned that cuts at Bombardier could lead to the loss of as many as 13,000 across the region.
Both unions and opposition politicians have called for the coalition government to review its decision, but Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has ruled out such a move. The RMT will challenge the government over the situation when it meets Hammond tomorrow and is pressing ahead with a protest in Derby on 23 July.