BRITAIN'S biggest coach builder is planning to axe a third of its Scottish workforce having received over £8m in 'job securing' taxpayer funding which helped support building new greener buses in Scotland.

Unite Scotland has angrily reacted to the news that Alexander Dennis (ADL), is planning to axe a further 70 jobs in addition to the 200 job cuts previously announced at its Falkirk base in Scotland.

The union has said that nearly 300 jobs will now go out of 850 workers.

Unite says the company responded by announcing further job losses following the union’s insistence that the company maximises its efforts to save jobs and to support workers being made redundant.

ADL has said previously that decisions to cut jobs followed a "significant fall" in demand for new vehicles in the UK and the fact there was "no immediate visibility of the stimulus funding urgently required to support operators to place orders".

Unite which represents the majority of the workforce has also severely criticised Scottish Secretary Alistair Jack MP for the lack of any response to a letter dated September 10 from the union, which invited him to meet with workplace representatives to discuss the current situation facing ADL in Scotland, and what levels of support could be provided for the low-emissions bus industry.

READ MORE: Britain's biggest bus builder 'Alexander Dennis cuts' 160 jobs in Scotland

The union says that in a normal year about 25% of ADL’s order book are made up of orders from within Scotland and much of the rest is from the UK.

Unite Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: "The prospect of Alexander Dennis further cutting its workforce by 70 jobs in addition to the 200 announced a number of weeks ago is staggering. Unite has worked day in and day out to ensure the company honours the agreed consultation processes with the workforce. The sole objective for all should be to maximise the efforts to save jobs and to financially support workers through redundancy.”

“The lack of action by the UK Government is also disgraceful. Unite wrote to Alister Jack the Secretary of State for Scotland on the 10th September inviting him to discuss how together with Unite and the Scottish Government we could protect highly-skilled jobs in Falkirk.

"The reality is that 75% of Alexander Dennis’ orders come from outside Scotland with the vast majority of it being in the rest of the UK. Therefore, the lack of a response from Alister Jack to our overtures to support the workforce and the inaction by Boris Johnson in relation to the promised funding for 4,000 low-emission buses through a £3 billion fund is a shocking state of affairs.”


ADL announced in August that it had plans to cut 650 jobs across the UK - including 200 in Surrey, 90 in Scarborough and 200 other roles across its bases.

The announcement affecting Falkirk and Larbert comes in the aftermath of Unite revealing that ADL's Canadian parent company, New Flyer Industries (NFI), planned to outsource a large bus building contract for Berlin to a company in Turkey, "despite using the decline in orders to try and justify planned cuts".

The bus company has received nearly £8.5m in grants to support jobs in Scotland over 11 years.

Some £7.5m of public money was given by Scottish Enterprise to accelerate its expansion low-carbon vehicle programme in September, 2016. It was the largest research and development grant in the quango's history and came despite the manufacturer recording an £18.5m profit the previous year.

One of the company's chief shareholders at the time was Stagecoach tycoon Sir Brian Souter - a major financial supporter of the Scottish National Party.

That was before NFI took over the Scottish firm for £320m in May last year and announced it wanted to hit a sales trajectory of £1 billion for the coach and bus maker, including expansion in Scotland.

Both ADL chief executive Colin Robertson and Michael Stewart, chief financial officer, stayed on to continue the work done in Falkirk and Larbert.

Scottish Enterprise said the £7.5m taxpayer boost would "help increase their innovation, research and development and global reach".

It helped Alexander Dennis set up a £30 million development and product market programme to allow the launch of the eco-friendly Enviro400XLB, its highest capacity bus for the UK market, in conjunction with Lothian Buses.

Scottish Enterprise lauded the launch of the green bus manufactured in Falkirk saying it was "securing jobs and adding value to the Scottish economy directly and via the extensive local supply chain".

"This accelerated our growth much faster," said Mr Robertson at the time.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described Alexander Dennis as a "true Scottish success story".

She added: "ADL's continued commitment to invest in Scotland is testament to the skilled workforce here in Falkirk."

Mr Robertson handed over the first bus to Lothian managing director Richard Hall on November 8, 2018 in a ceremony at the manufacturer’s Falkirk plant that was attended by transport secretary Michael Matheson, and representatives of Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland.


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to Alexander Dennis in 2016

Scottish Enterprise did not have a stake in the company and therefore would not see any return from the takeover.

It is not the first grant provided.

The bus firm which was rescued from the brink of collapse in 2004, by Scottish investors, was the following year awarded an £800,000 government research and development grant.

The Falkirk-based company said at the time that the R&D Plus award was to be used to develop a new generation of buses and was to help secure nearly 800 jobs.

ADL was established in 2004 when a consortium of Scottish entrepreneurs led by Mr Souter and including Dame Ann Gloag (Souter's sister), Sir Angus Grossart and Sir David Murray acquired the business from TransBus International's administrators.