Unite, RMT and TUC express concerns at deal that sees Siemens win contract over Bombardier

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Unite has called on the government to halt the Thameslink contract after the publication today of a Transport Select Committee Report into the deal that led to Britain’s last train maker lose out to a consortium led by Siemens.

The committee recommends the National Audit Office conduct a review into the procurement process, which has been welcomed by the union.

General secretary Len McCluskey said: “It is an outrage that the British government loaded the dice against British jobs. It is now time to lift the lid on the murky dealings which stopped this country’s last train maker from building trains for our railways.

“The select committee’s report is a damning indictment of the government. The Thameslink contract has been shrouded in a veil of secrecy. It will be a national scandal if the Transport Secretary refuses to put the Thameslink contract on hold to allow a full inquiry.

“We have consistently argued that the government  failed to think about the social and economic consequences of its decision to put tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs on the scrapheap. It appears a decision was also based on the prefered bidder’s ability to raise cash rather than build trains.

“We now hope that the Government will do the right thing and act on the Select Committee’s recommendations and also learn lessons for the future.”

TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This report vindicates concerns that the TUC and rail unions have raised repeatedly with ministers over the last eighteen months.

“The Thameslink procurement process has been flawed throughout. In particular, the Select Committee report supports our view that the financing arrangement that forms part of the tender skews the market. Bombardier never had a chance.

“It is still not too late for the government to do the right thing for Bombardier, its workforce, its suppliers and the UK taxpayer, and change its decision.

“The government must also learn lessons and conduct future procurement in a way that benefits UK business and taxpayers.

“Rolling private finance into the Thameslink tender has been a disaster as it benefits the UK’s competitors and provides poor value for money at a time when public borrowing is significantly cheaper. This mistake must not be repeated in the Crossrail contract.”

RAIL UNION RMT today demanded that the Government reverse a decision to place the Thameslink fleet contract with Siemens in Germany and award the work to Bombardier in Derby as a key Commons committee called for the whole procurement process to be subjected to a full scrutiny by the National Audit Office.

The RMT says the report confirms everything that the union has been saying about the loaded and distorted procurement process that has left ten thousand jobs at Bombardier in Derby, and in the supply chain, hanging by a thread:

  • The failure to include socio economic factors in the tendering process right from the start loaded the dice against Bombardier
  • More account was taken of the banking and financial status of Siemens than of the design, quality and excellence of the tried and tested Bombardier engineering
  • The facts behind the decision to knock back the Bombardier bid have been shrouded in the cloak of “commercial confidentiality” despite the severe implications for UK train-building.
  • There should be a proper rolling-stock procurement plan aimed at protecting and expanding jobs and skills and recognising UK design and build excellence.

General Secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT welcomes this report and there is now no reason whatsoever for the government to persevere with the sabotage and destruction of the last UK train building plant at Bombardier in Derby.

“This report confirms what RMT has said all along – that the procurement process was loaded against Bombardier regardless of the social and economic impact of dumping 10,000 manufacturing jobs. Political inaction, combined with EU diktat, came together in a poisonous cocktail to deliver a hammer blow to train building in the nation that gave the railways to the world.

“The Thameslink contract still hasn’t been signed off as Siemens financing is caught up in the chaos of the financial markets. That means there is a window of opportunity to reverse the betrayal of Bombardier on the back of this report, save 10,000 people from the growing dole queue and ensure that we don’t repeat this shambles over Crossrail and other fleet contracts.”


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