It isn’t just ironic that the Government has awarded the contract for printing Britain’s new post-Brexit blue passports to a Franco-Dutch firm instead of the current, UK-based, unionised De La Rue print company. This is exactly the sort of Brexit that some hard-right politicians have been after all along.
As Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey told the Daily Mirror last night “Instead of taking back control, the Government is doing things on the cheap.”
Unite and the GMB have joined forces with the Mirror to run a petition demanding that the new passports are made in Britain to support UK jobs, and we want as many people as possible to sign up and share the petition with friends and workmates.
The decision to recreate the old pre-EU British passport colour – something we could of course have done without leaving the EU – was a populist policy put forward by those advocating a Leave vote in the 2016 referendum.
What they didn’t tell voters was that the contract for printing UK passports, held for ten years by unionised British firm De La Rue, would then be awarded to the lowest bidder, wherever they came from.
GMB union leader Tim Roache said "At this rate, a Tory hard Brexit is going to be a passport to nowhere for our manufacturing industry."
The contract to print UK passports provides jobs for 150 workers at the main Gateshead plant, although the two hundred year old De La Rue company also prints bank notes and a host of other products. It is a highly unionised, motivated and skilled workforce who are stunned and appalled by the decision.
As well as unions, politicians from across the political spectrum are opposing the decision taken by the Home Office, whether they voted leave or remain. But this is the logic of a Tory Brexit – it’s not in the national interest at all, just the interests of a small group of the already rich and powerful.
The vast majority of people who voted to Leave did not vote to send the UK passport contract overseas, and it is decisions like this that make the TUC’s call for a jobs-first, rights-first Brexit so important.
This would not happen in France, where they produce their own passports in the interests of national security, despite remaining in the EU, and it should not happen in the UK.
Vowing to fight the decision and to secure UK jobs Unite national officer Louisa Bull said: “Theresa May and Amber Rudd need to explain to De La Rue workers why ‘taking back control’ means their jobs could be put at risk while the production of Britain’s new iconic passport is shipped overseas to France.”
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