UK printing firm De La Rue announced today (April 18) that it would not appeal the government’s decision to hand the contract for making the new blue British passports to a supplier in France.
The announcement comes only two weeks after De La Rue pledged it would fight the government decision that could see 200 or more jobs at risk.
Unite national officer Louisa Bull said the news will “come as a bitter blow to De La Rue workers who now face an uncertain future.
“Workers will feel let down that the company is not prepared to fight the government’s decision to ship the production of the new blue passports overseas,” she said.
Unite strongly opposed French-Dutch firm Gemalto winning the contract on grounds of national security and protecting communities and jobs.
The union highlighted the fact that in France, passports can only be produced domestically.
MPs from across the political spectrum likewise opposed the move – and dozens of Labour MPs showed solidarity with De La Rue workers at a Unite-organised ‘photo-booth’ demo outside Parliament last month. Trade union representatives from De La Rue travelled from Gateshead to join the MPs and brief them on the impact the government’s decision will have on jobs and the local economy.
When it was first revealed that Gemalto would be the preferred bidder, the government highlighted £120m cost savings to the taxpayer over length of the 11-year contract. But Unite and others highlighted that these savings were a false economy in light of the impact on jobs and the communities in the North East that rely on them.
What’s more, De La Rue has maintained a reputation for producing high quality UK passports for the last decade – a point MPs highlighted when an urgent question was raised over the issue in March.
De La Rue itself expressed concerns that the Gemalto bid was far too low to produce passports to a good standard.
“For the last decade De La Rue has produced the UK’s passports securely without any problems and provided a source of decent well paid jobs in the North East,” Bull said.
“Theresa May and her government is now putting all that at risk with little thought of the consequences or the shockwaves that it will send through the community and local economy,” she added.
“It would not happen in France where they produce their own passports on grounds of national security and it should not happen here in UK.”
“Unite will be working closely with De La Rue to seek assurances on jobs as well as supporting workers through these uncertain times.
De La Rue said today that it would not appeal the government decision after seeking legal advice but Bull argued that the situation “need not be like this”.
“Unite and our members are mobilised and prepared to fight the government’s decision which represents a dark day for UK manufacturing,” she said.
“Theresa May needs to wake up to the anger her government’s short sighted job destroying decision has generated and intervene to back UK passport workers by ensuring Britain’s blue passports are made in the UK.”