Demonstrators stage Alstom protest in Westminster

Demonstrators calling for the Alstom works in Derby to be saved have been lobbying Parliament.

One group was from the Unite union, while Derby councillors and business leaders were also in Westminster. The lobby of Parliament was timed to coincide with a meeting of the Transport Select Committee which was hearing evidence about the future of Britain’s trains.

The witnesses questioned by the Committee included Nick Crossfield, managing director of Alstom UK & Ireland, and the Railway Industry Association’s technical director David Clarke. MPs were also due to question Malcom Brown, who is the chief executive of the rolling stock leasing company Angel Trains. Companies like Angel provide nearly all the capital to purchase new trains.

The threatened closure of the Alstom works at Litchurch Lane in Derby is said to have put at least 1300 jobs directly at risk, plus 900 or more in the East Midlands supply chain.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Unite will do everything that is required to secure the future of the Alstom workforce. The government’s failure to properly plan its procurement process cannot and will not be allowed to threaten the livelihoods of our members. If the government allows this to happen it will be a gross betrayal of the workforce and the people of Derby.

‘Rail workers in Derby deserve better than this, their futures have been thrown into jeopardy by issues beyond their control. Ministers can’t be allowed to wash their hands of this crisis and they must come forward with a just solution. Equally, Alstom needs to play its part and invest in the site to reinforce its position as a world leader in train manufacturing.’

Derby City Council leader Baggy Shanker said the Alstom plant is a ‘strategically crucial part of the UK’s rail capabilities and the Government needs to recognise this’.

He continued: ‘There will be dreadful consequences for the city, the East Midlands and the country as a whole, if train production in Derby is lost. The hundreds of jobs that will disappear at Alstom will be mirrored by thousands more in the supply chain and when the nation does want to order new trains in the future, it will struggle to find anyone in the UK to build them.

‘This is simply unthinkable for a country which gave railways to the world and the Government has to find the political will to resolve this crisis.’