England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Jobs still under threat at Derby train factory

By Julie Walton, Socialist Alternative Leicester

The fiasco surrounding the Tories’ botched HS2 project continues. Alstom, the firm contracted to make the high-speed trains, announced that it may close. A local campaign has seen a temporary reprieve.

The threat of job losses is due to a lack of orders until 2026, with managing director Nick Crossfield announcing ‘the company can no longer guarantee a presence in the city’. Up to 1,300 permanent manufacturing jobs could go, with an additional knock-on effect to the supply chain (15,000 further jobs are at risk). One contractor, Paintbox, went into administration, another has pulled out of the site and a third based in Birmingham, Solo Rail Solutions, has also called in the administrator.

In response, a vigorous local campaign was launched in Derby to save the site which has built trains since the 1840s. There was massive public support behind the slogan ‘Save Our Trains. Do The Deal’.

The resulting pressure forced a new deal from the Department of Transport, seeing Alstom build ten new trains on London’s Elizabeth line, which may be enough to bridge the gap until HS2 trains are due to be built. However, while some vital jobs may have been saved in the city, redundancy notices had already been given to 1,300 workers and Alstom said it was preparing to mothball the site.

Unite the Union has rightly pointed toward the gaps that still exist in the order schedule, but it also needs to be pointed out that while the industry is in private hands, these jobs will remain at risk.

Meanwhile, Labour have already reneged on promises to renationalise the NHS and essential services from the 2019 manifesto. We can’t trust them with the railways even after their recent announcements.

Socialist Alternative believes the only way to secure a future for the rail network is to bring the entire industry under public ownership and democratic control. It should never have been carved up by the last months of the John Major administration. With a general election approaching, the Tories will inflict more damage on working people which is why they must be driven out.

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