The mood was grim outside Amtrak’s Walsall depot as workers took in the news that hundreds of jobs were being slashed.
As some of the 400 employees set to lose their jobs left the Aldridge site, many said they were angry the company had left it so long before they had been told.
One engineer, who asked not to be named, said there had not even been any contact from the company when administrators were called in and it became obvious trouble was ahead.
“They didn’t even have the common courtesy to tell us when they knew it was going to happen last Thursday”, said the 50-year-old, who lives in Lichfield. “We were just left thinking what the company’s next move would will be. The mood is bad, everybody’s just very upset – you can’t say more than that.
“People have got no prospects at a time like this, there’s nowhere around here that could take in 100 people.
“I’ve worked here for 10 months, now I’m planning to buy a Harley and travel around Europe with my wife.”
He claimed the company had still been interviewing new workers until Thursday last week, when administrators from Ernst & Young were finally called into the stricken company.
Amtrak’s headquarters in Aldridge employs a significant chunk of the 900-strong workforce spread across the country.
The business has two distribution hubs in Aldridge and Warrington together with 36 distribution depots across the UK
As workers left the factory gates on Northgate Way, cars were searched thoroughly by security staff. One worker claimed they had been searched regularly for the last week, to stop people stealing equipment.
Many said they were unhappy, but did not want to be identified while negotiations with management went on.
A 41-year-old employee in the international department at the firm said: “The job’s gone, but I don’t know when. We’ve given our all for the company, and I just feel sorry for everyone.
“We’re just doing our job as much as we can, waiting to hear when our services will no longer be required. We’re pretty much resigned now. I’ve started contacting agencies and sending my CV around.
“I’m fairly confident I’ll get another job – it may not be an ideal job, but with a mortgage and children, you’ve got to work.”
A spokesman for Ernst & Young, which sent in administrators last Friday, had earlier said the whole business would be wound up by the end of the week.
The 41-year-old worker, who has been at the company for more than five years, said employees had not been giving an official ending date, but the monthly staff had only been paid until the end of the week.
One Polish worker joked: “Everybody’s going to have to go to Poland for jobs now.”
But engineer Phil Smith, from Walsall, was more sanguine. Mr Smith, aged 52, had worked at Amtrak for about 12 years.
He said: “Many people aren’t happy about it, but I’m one of the ones that’s just going to get on with it. I suppose I’m going to go on the dole now, but there’s not many jobs around here. I might emigrate to Canada and live with my sister.”