Bombardier march in Derby demands contract rethink

Up to 6,000 people have marched through Derby in support of train maker Bombardier, according to police.

The firm is planning to cut almost half of its 3,000 workforce after missing out on a £1.4bn Thameslink contract.

Bosses, unions and local politicians have called on the government to reconsider a decision to make German company Siemens the preferred bidder.

Organisers claim the job losses will be a huge blow for the local economy and UK manufacturing as a whole.

The march started at Bass Recreation Ground and as it passed through the city centre workers left offices to join shoppers in applauding the demonstrators before a rally began on Cathedral Green.

'Huge alliance'

Speakers included Bombardier's UK chairman Colin Walton, Derby South MP Margaret Beckett and Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union.

The crowd was told that public pressure could still force a change of heart from the Department for Transport.

Diana Holland, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: "We have created a huge alliance here and we must keep the campaign going because it is not loo late to persuade the government to change its mind."

However, David Cameron in a meeting with Derbyshire MPs earlier in the week, reiterated the government's position that it was legally bound by the terms of the tendering process and no U-turn was possible.

Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, said: "It will be a huge kick in the teeth for the Derby public if the government doesn't back down on its decision to build these trains in Germany.

"When the prime minister came to Derby just a few months ago he talked about rebalancing the economy in favour of the manufacturing industry.

"This is his chance to do that."

Jane Moss, one of the company's contract workers, the group hardest hit by the proposed redundancies, said: "There is no morale any more, it is very quiet in the factory.

"David Cameron promised all these things when he was here but it is like he has no loyalty to the country."

Offers to bring forward contracts for London Underground and the Crossrail project have been welcomed by Bombardier management but they emphasised the Thameslink work was the most important.

A 50,000-signature petition demanding the contract should be reviewed was presented to the House of Commons last week.

A Department for Transport spokesman insisted it fully supported manufacturing, adding: "Going forward, we fully recognise that there is a need to examine the wider issue of whether the UK is making best use of the application of EU procurement rules and this will be examined as part of the government's growth review."

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