ADL branded ‘disgraceful and deceptive’ over Guildford production closure and Falkirk and Scarborough redundancies
Alexander Dennis (ADL), the UK’s largest bus and coach builder, has been blasted for its ‘disgraceful and deceptive’ behaviour by Unite following the shock announcement that it will close production at its site in Guildford, Surrey, with the loss of 200 jobs, as well as making swingeing redundancies at its plants in Falkirk and Scarborough.
Staff were told today (20 August) that production at Guildford will end during a meeting called to provide more details of the 650 job losses across the firm’s sites at Falkirk, Guildford and Scarborough, which were announced earlier this month. The company has told staff at Falkirk that 160 jobs will go, with more still to be announced, while 90 jobs will go in Scarborough.
ADL has ostensibly blamed a drop in business due to coronavirus for the cuts. While the acknowledging the impact on orders, Unite said ADL is using Covid-19 as an excuse to accelerate restructuring plans developed before the pandemic (see notes below).
Earlier this week, Unite exposed the plans by ADL’s parent company, the NFI Group, to potentially close a UK site and outsource a large bus building contract for Berlin to a company in Turkey, despite using the decline in orders to try and justify planned cuts.
In a recording from an NFI investors meeting on August 6, the group’s chief financial officer Pipasu Sinui said that NFI‘s strategy is about generating ‘significant returns for shareholders’ and was developed before the pandemic.
NFI CEO Paul Soubry also stated that many bus orders have been ‘shifted’ from 2020 to 2021, rather than being cancelled, and said that bus markets ‘will recover and will be a critical driver for economic recovery for the long term’.
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, but says any support must now be conditional on ADL ending job cuts and outsourcing and committing to the long term future of each site.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said, “While the coronavirus crisis has undoubtedly impacted ADL’s short term operations following a collapse in orders from UK bus operators, the firm’s Canadian parent company NFI has exposed the true extent of its betrayal of UK workers, their families and communities.
“Pre-Covid plans, identified by Unite following disclosure of information requests, are now being accelerated to use the pandemic as an excuse to bring forward the ending of production at Guildford and attack jobs across the group while outsourcing work abroad in order to line shareholder pockets. The fact that all this is being done after the company took full advantage of UK taxpayer’s money through the job retention scheme, and after our help has been sought to secure government funding for advanced manufacture of green buses, is a gross betrayal of a loyal, world class workforce.
“ADL and NFI’s disgraceful and deceptive actions are devastating for workers and communities across the UK. If ADL believe that Unite will not organise workers and communities to fight these cuts they are sorely mistaken. ADL’s workforce is rightly incandescent at the way they have been treated, they will not stand for it and their union will be shoulder to shoulder with them at every step of this fight.”
Unite national officer for automotive Steve Bush said, “These disgraceful cuts are an acceleration of the footprint reduction outlined in NFI’s pre-Covid strategy – a strategy that until this week was hidden from ADL’s UK workforce.
“The company has made no attempt at a proper consultation with Unite and has attempted to pass off these cuts as an inevitable result of the pandemic downturn. Unite has received no official confirmation of the job losses announced this morning and staff are still in the dark as to where many of the redundancies will fall.“ADL and NFI’s actions are naked corporate vandalism driven by greed and will not go unchallenged by Unite. The union continues to call for the government to bring forward its order of 4,000 new low emission buses, but any public money including new orders, must now be conditional on the company retaining jobs and keeping work in the UK.”
Unite scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said, “There are a number of measures which the Scottish and UK Government can and must enact with immediate effect. This includes the UK Government bringing forward its order of 4,000 new low emission buses and the Scottish Government implementing the Just Transition Commission’s recent recommendation that £500m be invested in the nation’s transport infrastructure including the manufacture of green buses.”
“However, 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.”