Bombardier Rally

24 July 2011, 10:30

Union leaders, MPs and local politicians all showed up in Derby for a massive march through the city today.

Around ten thousands of people joined a demonstration yesterday in support of the UK's last train manufacturer, Bombardier in Derby.

The march through the city centre saw applause from Saturday shoppers and families as they protested a Government decision to award a £1.4 billion contract to build new carriages to German firm Siemens, ahead of Bombardier.

The Derby-based firm has warned that 1,400 jobs will be axed as a result of losing out on the Thameslink deal.

Workers left offices while shoppers stood and applauded as the demonstrators marched through Derby city centre to a rally, where Diana Holland, assistant general secretary of Unite, called on the Government to reverse its decision.

``We have created a huge alliance here and we must keep the campaign going because it is not loo late to persuade the Government to change its mind,'' she said.

``The Government last week opened up a red tape challenge on manufacturing so the only thing they have to offer is cutting workplace safety standards and employment regulations.

``What they need to do is support workers and invest in manufacturing.''

Ms Holland asked why the Government had not taken social costs and jobs into account when awarding the contract, which she claimed had been structured to disadvantage the Derby plant.

Unions were continuing to press politicians to support a change of heart from the Government and were considering a legal challenge, said Ms Holland, who described today's protest as ``absolutely incredible''.

GMB official Tyehimba Nosakhere said: ``It is clear that Bombardier were not only victims of the Government's lack of concern for maintaining manufacturing in this country, but also the Government continued to meet with Bombardier and obtain information from them with regards to the bid after the Government were aware that they would be awarding the preferred bidders status to Siemens.

``The Government then used some of this information in their propaganda against the company once the redundancies were announced.''

A poll of more than 25,000 adults for the Unite union showed that 88% wanted the Government to reconsider its decision and 95% believed the coalition should actively support manufacturing jobs in this country.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ``This Government strongly supports British manufacturing. However, the Thameslink procurement was set up and designed by the previous Government and we are legally bound by the criteria set out at the beginning of that process.

``Going forward, we fully recognise that there is a need to examine the wider issue of whether the UK is making best use of the application of EU procurement rules and this will be examined as part of the Government's growth review.''

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