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151 jobs go as German glass manufacturer shuts down plant

Post Time:May 25,2009Classify:Company NewsView:402

A TOWN hit hard by the economic downturn suffered another blow on Tuesday as 151 County Durham glass workers lost their jobs.

German flat glass manufacturer Schott said that its Newton Aycliffe plant was making significant losses and it had “no viable alternative” but to shut it.

The company said agreement had been reached with its 151 employees regarding redundancy and there would now be a phased closure, with the factory shutting completely by the end of the year.

Stewart Watkins, the managing director of the County Durham Development Company, Durham County Council’s business support division, described the decision as a “body blow” to Newton Aycliffe.

Schott workers had been on a 90-day consultation after the company announced in February it was reviewing various options, including possible closure, for the factory at Aycliffe Industrial Park.

The company said the staff has worked “extremely hard”

with management to find a way forward.

But the company, which makes glass oven doors and control panels, has been badly hit by the closure of domestic appliance manufacturers in the UK, including the nearby Spennymoor Electrolux Plant, one of its major customers.

Electrolux announced in December 2007 that it was closing its cooker factory on the Merrington Lane Industrial Estate, which employed 500 people, and moving production to Poland.

Schott said sales had been reduced to a level where there was no prospect of the plant achieving its financial targets.

Michael Schuhmann, executive vice-president of Schott Flat Glass, said: “We deeply regret that this decision has had to be made.

“Due to the future perspectives in the UK market – further sales decline in the British home appliance market, smaller turnover level and no chance of recovering soon – continuing to manufacture in the UK would endanger the long-term profitability of the Schott Flat Glass business as a whole.”

Newton Aycliffe has been decimated in the downturn.

In the last three months of 2008, the town’s biggest employer, car parts maker Thyssenkrupp (TK) Tallent, made 286 people redundant, more than a quarter of the 830-strong workforce.

In December, microchip maker RFMD, which took over Filtronic’s plant in the town, said it would be making up to 99 people redundant – a third of its 300-strong workforce – after seeing a dramatic downturn in demand.

And in January most of the 180 staff at furniture company Europa Sofabeds, on Heighington Lane Business Park, lost their jobs.

Mr Watkins said: “The loss of 151 jobs is a significant number even in today’s climate. CDDC is willing and able to provide support for the company and workforce if called upon and we will work with our partners to ensure the employees receive the best possible support in this difficult time.”

Local MP Phil Wilson said the move was “very disappointing”

but added that just 80 people in the area have been unemployed for longer than 12 months and said that was proof the Government was “getting something right” in its efforts to get people back to work.

Source: durhamtimes.co.ukAuthor: shangyi

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