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De La Rue announces job losses

Security print firm De La Rue has announced the loss of 170 jobs at its site in Gateshead.

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De La Rue’s Gateshead site

Unions are blaming the losses on the UK government’s “short-sighted” decision to award the post-Brexit passport printing contract to Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto.

Unite the Union says that today’s loss of 170 skilled printing jobs working on the foreign currency contracts comes on top of the 100 passport printing jobs set to go in the autumn. According to Unite, around 200 workers doing currency printing will remain at the site.

Unite national officer Louisa Bull comments: “The government’s short-sighted and blinkered decision to award the printing of post-Brexit UK passports, worth £490 million, to French-Dutch firm Gemalto seriously undermined the financial viability of the Gateshead operation.

“This is devastating news for the workforce, their families and also for the North East economy which can ill-afford to lose such skilled jobs. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of printing jobs across the region and the employment opportunities for those losing their jobs are few-and-far between.

“Most European countries regard the printing of passports as a national security matter which should be done in the home country. However, we have a government which prioritises a rigid adherence to a right-wing outsourcing agenda before maintaining skilled printing jobs in the North East and guaranteeing national security.”

However, we have a government which prioritises a rigid adherence to a right-wing outsourcing agenda before maintaining skilled printing jobs in the North East

Bull notes that Gemalto, now in charge of printing British passports, has outsourced the job to a Polish firm.

She continues: “It is clear that De La Rue is in financial trouble with its chief executive Martin Sutherland stepping down recently – a situation made worse by the decision to print the post-Brexit blue passports abroad.

“The company will argue that the cost of production in Gateshead is a challenge and it will be looking to place more of its contracts at its Malta operation. De La Rue also has plants in Kenya and Sri Lanka.”

A spokesperson for De La Rue says: “As the world’s largest commercial banknote printer we regularly review our operational footprint to ensure it meets global demand.

“We are currently in the final stages of a footprint restructuring programme that was announced in 2015 to ensure our business continues to be competitive on a global scale.

"As part of that programme we are proposing to shut one of the print lines in Gateshead and are currently consulting with all parties concerned on this proposal.”

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