Camelon coach company planning to axe 160 jobs in Falkirk area

A union has hit out at a Camelon coach builder after the company confirmed its plans to axe 160 jobs in Falkirk district.

By Jonathon Reilly
Thursday, 20th August 2020, 12:31 pm
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 2:53 pm

Enraged Unite Scotland members have slammed a “devastating” proposal by Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) to cut several roles at its depots in Camelon and Larbert, which together employ 850 workers.

The union also claims the job loss total is likely to exceed 200 after the company fully reveals its restructuring plans.

In July, the company announced 650 jobs were potentially at risk across their UK facilities.

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Alexander Dennis Limited plans to cut 160 job at its Camelon and Larbert sites. Picture: Michael Gillen.

The announcement affecting Falkirk and Larbert comes in the aftermath of Unite revealing ADL's parent company, New Flyer Industries (NFI), plans to outsource work to Turkey.

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Unite also claims the job cuts were planned before the Covid-19 pandemic in the parent company’s ‘NFI Forward’ strategy document.

Members are now calling for any government support for ADL to be conditional on jobs being kept in Scotland and the UK.

At least 160 workers at Alexander Dennis' Camelon and Larbert sites look set to lose their job. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Unite Scotland is demanding a number of strategic interventions by government at a UK and Scottish level including:

The UK Government immediately bringing forward the promised funding for 4000 low emission buses through a £3 billion fund.

The Scottish Government enacting the Just Transition Committee’s recommendation to rapidly roll-out spending of the £500 million committed to prioritise buses.

The establishment of a Scottish-wide bus scrappage scheme to replace older diesel buses with low emission and zero emission buses.

The immediate procuring of a fleet of green buses for use at COP26 in Glasgow next November.

The acceleration of orders to bus manufacturers and the supply chain through the new Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, which will provide £9 million this year to help bus operators invest in ultra-low emission vehicles.

Unite Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The news announced by Alexander Dennis which confirms that it plans to axe more than 160 highly-skilled workers at its Falkirk and Larbert sites is devastating.

“Unite will not allow these savage cuts to go unopposed and we will fight this every step of the way.

“We have repeatedly warned the Scottish and UK governments of the parent company New Flyer Industries’ intention to drastically curtail the manufacturing capacity of the sites across the UK and to outsource major contracts to Turkey.

“There are a number of measures which the Scottish and UK Government can and must enact with immediate effect.

“This includes the UK Government bringing forward its order of 4000 new low emission buses and the Scottish Government implementing the Just Transition Commission’s recent recommendation that £500 million be invested in the nation’s transport infrastructure including the manufacture of green buses.

“However, Unite is clear that any public money including new orders must be conditional on the company retaining jobs and keeping work in Scotland, and across the UK.

“The blame for this situation ultimately lies with the parent company based in North America. If these premature and needless job cuts go ahead then it will have a substantial impact on the nation’s green manufacturing capacity and make a mockery of any just green recovery.”

ADL says a dramatic fall in demand for new buses and coaches as a result of lockdown, social distancing and low passenger numbers have left it with “no alternative but to adjust its business to the current economic situation”.

The company confirmed this will also mean the potential loss of 160 manufacturing roles in Falkirk, even

with chassis assembly transferred to that site, and 90 production production jobs in Scarborough.

As the company adjusts its overhead to the change in manufacturing activity, a further 200 roles will be affected in support functions across all UK sites. ADL is actively seeking voluntary redundancies to reduce the number of compulsory job losses.

Paul Davies, ADL president and managing director, said: “The Dennis brand is of huge significance to the company, with its proud history and heritage of automotive innovation dating back to its inception in 1895.

“We will fight hard to protect this legacy and will continue to invest in our chassis product range, which will continue to be engineered in Guildford.

“We have no choice but to implement these tough decisions to protect the company’s future health.

“We remain confident that the situation will improve in time, and we are well placed to take advantage when that happens, but right now we have to adjust to our new economic reality.

“We continue to call upon the UK and Scottish Governments to urgently introduce meaningful support to facilitate demand for new buses and coaches, not only to prevent further damage to UK bus and coach manufacturing that could threaten additional production sites, but to help build back better with a green recovery that delivers cleaner air for our towns and cities.

“The installed UK fleet is currently approximately 50,000 buses and 21,000 coaches with an average age of nearly 11 years.

“Further, only 0.1 per cent of the total fleet are electric, which provides opportunity for massive reduction of the environmental footprint.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Transport Secretary recently met Unite representatives to discuss the threat of job losses at ADL and our thoughts go out to the workforce at this very stressful time.

“This is a hugely challenging time for the whole economy and the bus industry is no exception. It will take some time for the sector to recover from the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic on bus operator revenues – and the knock-on effect on bus manufacturing.

“We are providing up to £109 million to increase and maintain bus services and are providing £10 million for bus priority infrastructure measures.

“In addition, we have maintained concessionary travel payments and Bus Service Operator Grants at pre-Covid levels and have also improved our existing offer for bus exhaust retrofit solutions.

“As part of a further package of support, we have introduced a £7 million Covid-19 Mitigation Fund, where ADL could benefit as a supplier of equipment to the bus industry.

“This is coupled with the launch of the £9 million Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme which aims to accelerate the deployment of electric buses is in line with Scotland’s ambition to move to net-zero economy – which again may be of benefit to ADL and wider supply chain.

“We are working very closely with ADL to explore all possibilities to support jobs in Scotland and minimise the impact of Covid-19. We stand ready to assist any staff affected should job losses take place.”

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has expressed his concern at the announcement from ADL.

He said: “This is devastating news from a major local employer and my thoughts are with the workforce who are affected and their families.

“I had a call with the company’s new managing director Paul Davies to discuss the announcement. The Scottish Government has been in discussions with ADL since news broke last month about the proposed restructuring and I’m committed to continue this dialogue.

“It’s disappointing that this announcement came just a day after the Scottish Government launched its new Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, which will support both bus manufacturers like ADL and bus operators during this turbulent time for the industry by providing £9 million for investment in ultra-low emission buses.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work with ADL to explore all possibilities for keeping jobs in Scotland and stands ready to help affected staff through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE), which supports people affected by redundancy.”

Falkirk MP John McNally, meanwhile, has blasted the UK Government for what he deems to be a failure in supporting firms such as ADL.

He said: “This loss of jobs in our community is utterly devastating. It's a deeply disappointing decision and will impact negatively on so many families.

“The lack of understanding shown by the UK Government in these difficult times is staggering. If the promised funding had been released the company could have maintained its workforce in Camelon and Larbert. "

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