From spanner to montgolfiere
Alstom’s industrial activity is moving from hammer and spanner to laptop and big data, UK and Ireland managing director Henrik Anderberg told attendees at the company’s recent HS2 rolling stock “event” at the Houses of Parliament.
How could laptops and big data replace forge hammers, milling cutters, and welding kit, in train manufacture? It’s a bit of a mystery, just like Senior Vice-President of Alstom Europe Andreas Knitter’s claim that plans to develop an apprenticeships initiative in the UK illustrated ‘the company’s “track record” of investing in people and the local economies in which it operates’. As people in Newton-le-Willows, Preston, Rugby and Washwood Heath (etc) must know, Alstom’s UK track record is one of redundancies, de-skilling, downsizing, and factory closures.
At the event, Parliamentary “host” Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds told sceptics of HS2 to “stop being so negative and support what is a very exciting project”. But of course, Alstom do not give sceptics of HS2 invitations to their events. They do not have answers for awkward questions.
Another awkward question — for Emma Reynolds — is: what is to stop countries such as Hungary, Slovakia, or a post-Merkel Germany, handing travel documents, or passports, to ‘their’ migrants from outside the European Union?