Unite Scotland has today (20 August) reacted furiously to Alexander Dennis (ADL), the UK's largest bus and coach builder, announcing that it plans to axe at least 160 jobs at its Falkirk and Larbert bases in Scotland, which together employ 850 workers. The union has said that the final total will likely exceed 200 jobs after the company fully reveals its restructuring plans.

In July the company announced 650 jobs were potentially at risk across their UK facilities. The announcement affecting Falkirk and Larbert comes in the aftermath of Unite revealing this week that ADL's parent company, New Flyer Industries (NFI), plans to outsource work to Turkey. Unite also discovered that the job cuts were planned before the Covid-19 pandemic in the parent company’s ‘NFI Forward’ strategy document.

The nation’s leading trade union is calling for any government support for ADL to be conditional on keeping jobs in Scotland and the UK. The union’s Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, in an opinion piece for The Scotsman on Tuesday (18 August) warned of the impending job losses and demanded intervention by government to ensure orders were forthcoming for the world-class bus manufacturing workforce, which has its headquarters in Scotland.

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 4,000 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 Scottish 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 governments can and must enact with immediate effect. This includes the UK government bringing forward its order of 4,000 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.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty

About NFI Forward Strategy:

  • Based on Q2 financial results, the NFI Forward strategy aims to cut costs by up to $75 million
  • 8-10 per cent cost reductions for UK and North American sites, worth $20 million across manufacturing
  • A review of UK and North American manufacturing, with a risk of a site closure by 2022
  • The strategy was proposed to the NFI board before Covid-19 and is not a response to the pandemic.
  • The group has adjusted earnings (EBIDA) to $144-$155 million and is continuing to pay out dividends.
  • NFI's own forecasts show a recovery for UK bus passenger use, while UK bus companies are anticipated to restart placing orders to renew their fleets in 2021.
  • ADL won a contract for new fleet of double deck buses for Berlin in 2018. The company now plans to outsource this work to Karsan in Turkey.
  • Further details of the NFI Forward strategy are available on the NFI group website