June 25 (Reuters) - De La Rue said on Tuesday 171 jobs were at risk at its Gateshead plant, more than a year after the banknote and passport printer lost a 400 million pound ($509.08 million) contract to make UK passports in the traditional blue colour.
British union Unite attributed the job cuts to the lost contract, adding the losses were for skilled printing jobs working on the foreign currency contracts, with 100 passport printing jobs due to go in the autumn.
De La Rue lost the post-Brexit UK passport contract last year to Franco-Dutch group Gemalto, in a move that the government said was an expression of British independence and sovereignty after the vote to leave the European Union.
A spokeswoman for De La Rue said the company was in the final stages of a footprint restructuring programme that was announced in 2015.
“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,” the spokeswoman added.
The union said there will be about 200 workers doing currency printing at Gateshead, following the passport and currency printing losses.
De La Rue, which produces passports for 40 countries, said last month that its chief executive officer would quit as it warned of a profit downturn this year.
$1 = 0.7857 pounds Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber