Alexander Dennis (ADL), the UK’s largest bus and coach builder, has been blasted for its ‘disgraceful and deceptive’ behaviour by Unite following the shock announcement that it will close production at its site in Guildford, Surrey, with the loss of 200 jobs, as well as making swingeing redundancies at its plants in Falkirk and Scarborough.

Staff were told today (20 August) that production at Guildford will end during a meeting called to provide more details of the 650 job losses across the firm’s sites at Falkirk, Guildford and Scarborough, which were announced earlier this month. The company has told staff at Falkirk that 160 jobs will go, with more still to be announced, while 90 jobs will go in Scarborough.

ADL has ostensibly blamed a drop in business due to coronavirus for the cuts. While the acknowledging the impact on orders, Unite said ADL is using Covid-19 as an excuse to accelerate restructuring plans developed before the pandemic (see notes below). 

Earlier this week, Unite exposed the plans by ADL’s parent company, the NFI Group, to potentially close a UK site and outsource a large bus building contract for Berlin to a company in Turkey, despite using the decline in orders to try and justify planned cuts.

In a recording from an NFI investors meeting on August 6, the group’s chief financial officer Pipasu Sinui said that NFI‘s strategy is about generating 'significant returns for shareholders’ and was developed before the pandemic.

NFI CEO Paul Soubry also stated that many bus orders have been ‘shifted’ from 2020 to 2021, rather than being cancelled, and said that bus markets ‘will recover and will be a critical driver for economic recovery for the long term’.

Unite has been calling for the prime minister's promised order of 4,000 new low emission buses to be brought forward to help the bus and coach industry to recover from Covid-19, but says any support must now be conditional on ADL ending job cuts and outsourcing and committing to the long term future of each site.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “While the coronavirus crisis has undoubtedly impacted ADL’s short term operations following a collapse in orders from UK bus operators, the firm’s Canadian parent company NFI has exposed the true extent of its betrayal of UK workers, their families and communities.  

“Pre-Covid plans, identified by Unite following disclosure of information requests, are now being accelerated to use the pandemic as an excuse to bring forward the ending of production at Guildford and attack jobs across the group while outsourcing work abroad in order to line shareholder pockets. The fact that all this is being done after the company took full advantage of UK taxpayer’s money through the job retention scheme, and after our help has been sought to secure government funding for advanced manufacture of green buses, is a gross betrayal of a loyal, world class workforce. 

“ADL and NFI’s disgraceful and deceptive actions are devastating for workers and communities across the UK. If ADL believe that Unite will not organise workers and communities to fight these cuts they are sorely mistaken. ADL’s workforce is rightly incandescent at the way they have been treated, they will not stand for it and their union will be shoulder to shoulder with them at every step of this fight.”

Unite national officer for automotive Steve Bush said: “These disgraceful cuts are an acceleration of the footprint reduction outlined in NFI’s pre-Covid strategy – a strategy that until this week was hidden from ADL’s UK workforce.

“The company has made no attempt at a proper consultation with Unite and has attempted to pass off these cuts as an inevitable result of the pandemic downturn. Unite has received no official confirmation of the job losses announced this morning and staff are still in the dark as to where many of the redundancies will fall.

“ADL and NFI’s actions are naked corporate vandalism driven by greed and will not go unchallenged by Unite. The union continues to call for the government to bring forward its order of 4,000 new low emission buses, but any public money including new orders, must now be conditional on the company retaining jobs and keeping work in the UK."

ENDS

Notes to editors: 

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 have adjusted earnings (EBIDA) to $144-$155 million and are 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 here.

For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215

Email:[email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.