De La Rue axing 170 jobs amid restructure

About 170 jobs are being axed at De La Rue just over a year after the firm lost the contract to print the new blue British passports.

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

Unite said the 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.”

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 on Monday that 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.

The boardroom clearout follows results revealing De La Rue’s profits have fallen and will continue to drop next year.

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.

On the job cuts, a De La Rue spokesman insisted it was 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.