By Max Clarke
The government’s decision in June to award a £1.1bn contract for the manufacture of some 1,200 train carriages for Thameslink trains to German manufacturer, Siemens, has sparked uniform, cross party condemnation from the British public, a new survey reveals.
The Survation poll, carried out by Progressive Polling in conjunction with the Daily Mirror, questioned a total of 550 adults, revealing the majority were opposed with to government’s decision which soon led to the Derby-based manufacturer announcing 1,500 job losses.
The Unite union says that the government's decision, made in Spring this year, puts at risk the very survival of Bombardier in the UK, and with it rail manufacturing in the nation that gave the world train transport - but it also places Derby, a manufacturing hub, in jeopardy.
"Voters are united on this,” commented Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, “they want the government to do what is the best for Britain. In the case of Bombardier they are clear that this means thinking again on the Thameslink contract.
"With the economy so clearly struggling, voters are asking why government is even given a moment's consideration to a bid that would see it turn its back on skilled manufacturing jobs in the UK. How on earth can we rebuild our economy if we cannot hang onto those who make the products we can sell to the world?”
The government argued that Siemens’ bid was more competitively priced, offering better value to the UK taxpayer. It also noted that to chose the British bidder ahead of the German for nationalistic reasons would be a clear breach of EU procurement laws. This is refuted by the union, who note countries like France who almost solely equip national infrastructure with domestic industry despite the rules.
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