3M jobs threatened as passport contract switches to De La Rue

By Simon Nias, Friday 17 December 2010

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More than 100 production staff are facing redundancy at 3M Security Printing as a result of its loss of the UK Passport contract to rival De La Rue.

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De La Rue has won contract to print passports

According to Unite, around 170 staff are in consultation as a result of the contract switch, including 79 Unite members and around 90 agency staff employed through recruitment firm Kelly Services.

All of the staff have been subject to TUPE negotiations as a result of the Identity and Passport Services’ decision to award the 10-year contract to print the next generation of biometric passports to De La Rue rather than incumbent 3M.

De La Rue had been due to take over production of the UK Passports on 4 October, although PrintWeek understands that TUPE negotiations are not likely to be completed before 29 December.

Of the 79 Unite staff working on the previous contract at 3M, 76 are expected to take redundancy, while only three will take up employment with De La Rue.

Kelly Services was unavailable for comment as PrintWeek went to press. However, a spokesman for Unite said that there were only six jobs available across the two UK De La Rue sites where the passports will be produced.

Tony Burke, assistant general secretary at Unite, said that the union was still in TUPE negotiations with 3M and De La Rue on behalf of its members. "We’re looking at alternative placements for employees of 3M within De La Rue," he added.

Michael Meacher, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, raised the plight of 3M and its employees in a parliamentary debate earlier this month, in which he called for the contract to be re-tendered.

In addition to raising questions about the "fairness" of the original tender process, Meacher claimed that 3M could deliver the new biometric passports for £100m less than the £400m contract value, due to "changes in the specifications".

"If the contract goes ahead without retender, more than 100 jobs will be lost from the current operation," said Meacher. "I understand that only a fraction of these will find employment under the new contract. In addition to the £100m that will be lost to the Exchequer if there is no retender, there will be a further cost of more than £5m in severance payments."

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