More jobs axed at British firm after blue passport contract given to French business

Nigel Farage holds up a burgundy passport. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

Nigel Farage holds up a burgundy passport. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

More than 250 jobs are being axed at a British firm around a year after the business lost the contract to print the new post-Brexit blue passports.

Trade union Unite blamed the job losses at De La Rue's Gateshead factory on the government's decision last year to award the passport contact to Franco-Dutch company Gemalto.

Unite said that the latest announcement of 170 job cuts come on top of the 100 passport printing jobs 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."

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She added that "most European countries regard the printing of passports as a national security matter which should be done in the home country".

It comes after De La Rue said that the chairman Philip Rogerson and senior independent director Andy Stevens both plan to leave this year, just weeks after the chief executive headed for the door.

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Outgoing chief executive Martin Sutherland, who quit at the same time as the most recent profit warning, had previously threatened to take the government to court over the passport decision, but subsequently changed his mind.

A De La Rue spokesman insisted the job cuts were part of an ongoing restructuring.

He said: "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."

Unite said about 200 workers will continue to work on currency printing at the Gateshead site after redundancies.

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