Tough news yesterday for 1400+ workers being laid off at the Bombardier train factory in Derby, U.K.
Therein a very stark and hard-boiled lesson for naive Canadians who believe that "free" trade with Europe means anything of the sort.
The lay-offs come as a result of the U.K. conservative coalition government handing a $5 billion contract to build rail cars to the German company, Siemens.
The government's decision is almost impossible to fathom and has set off a storm of protest from all corners of the country.
U.K. government officials blamed "complex EU rules" for the seemingly indefensible decision, as reported in The Sun:
The Coalition Government picked Siemens to build the Thameslink carriages last month as it offered "better value for taxpayers"
Yesterday Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said his hands were tied by the terms of the tender that Labour set up - and complex EU rules.
Quoted in the Montreal Gazette, Hammond acknowledges the preposterous reality of the situation, while other critics said that the French or German government would have used tricks in the procurement process to safeguard their own local suppliers.
Hammond agreed with critics who argued that the French and German governments would never award such a large procurement contract to a foreign bidder despite European Union rules requiring open procurement bidding system.
"The French routinely award contracts for trains to French builders and the Germans award contracts for trains to German builders," Hammond said.
In 2010, overseas firms from China and Spain tried to railroad Quebec into giving the contract for new Montreal Metro cars to foreign competitors, using similar "legal" arguments. However the Quebec government finally passed a law to avoid that particular bit of nonsense.
What kind of "free" trade forces a government to throw local workers out on the street in order to give a contract to foreign competitors of a local company?
Time to say, "Thanks but no thanks" to free trade with Europe.