Union blames Government passport decision for job losses at North East printer De La Rue
Unions have blamed a Government decison to award a contract to print post-Brexit passports to a French firm for job losses in the North East.
De La Rue has confimed it is looking at reducing production at its Gateshead plant.
Unions say last year’s decision to give the post-Brexit passport printing contract to a French company has undermined De La Rue’s financial stability and jeopardised jobs in its currency printing division.
A De La Rue spokesperson said: “As the world’s largest commercial banknote printer we regularly review our operational footprint to ensure it meets global demand.
“We are currently in the final stages of a footprint restructuring programme announced in 2015.
“We are proposing to shut one of the print lines in Gateshead and are currently consulting with all parties concerned on this proposal.”
Unite national officer Louisa Bull said: “The government’s short-sighted and blinkered decision to award the printing of post-Brexit UK passports, worth £490 million, to French-Dutch firm Gemalto seriously undermined the financial viability of the Gateshead operation.
“This flawed decision came home to roost today with the loss of 170 jobs working on the different types of currency notes that De La Rue produces.
“This is devastating news for the workforce, their families and also for the North East economy which can ill-afford to lose such skilled jobs. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of printing jobs across the region and the employment opportunities for those losing their jobs are few-and-far between.
“Most European countries regard the printing of passports as a national security matter which should be done in the home country.
“However, we have a government which prioritises a rigid adherence to a right-wing outsourcing agenda before maintaining skilled printing jobs in the north east and guaranteeing national security.
“And the final distasteful irony is that Gemalto has now outsourced the printing of UK passports to a Polish firm.
“Unite will be doing all it can in supporting our members at this very difficult time and will continue to campaign strongly to keep vital printing work in the UK.”