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  1. ITV Report

Latest De La Rue job losses blamed on loss of Brexit passport contract

In 2018, the Government choose a Franco-Dutch company to make the new blue UK passports after Brexit Credit: PA

Up to 170 jobs are set to be lost in Gateshead after De La Rue has confirmed its plans to shut its foreign currency print line.

The company, which is the world's biggest banknote printer said the job losses are due to a restructuring programme - but it adds to the 100 jobs that had already been cut when the company lost its contract to print British passports after Brexit, which are due to go in the Autumn.

  • Unite national officer Louisa Bull said:

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 flawed decision came home to roost today with the loss of 170 jobs working on the different types of currency notes that De La Rue produces. 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. And the final distasteful irony is that Gemalto has now outsourced the printing of UK passports to a Polish firm.

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.

Unite will be doing all it can in supporting our members at this very difficult time and will continue to campaign strongly to keep vital printing work in the UK.

– UNITE

According to Unite, there will still be about 200 workers doing currency printing at Gateshead, following the passport and currency printing losses.

In April last year, the firm said it would not appeal against the Government's controversial decision to choose a Franco-Dutch company to make the new blue UK passports after Brexit.

The company confirmed that its full-year earnings would be hit by a write-off of about £4 million related to the bid costs for the passport tender.