‘Our town deserves better’ - help pledge after new jobs blow
THE Welsh Government will do what it can to support a struggling car components firm following plans to shed close to 100 jobs, according to an AM.
Llanelli AM Lee Waters has spoken out after it emerged 95 jobs are at risk at Calsonic Kansei following a “significant drop in sales”.
Heat exchange, air conditioning, exhaust and electronic components are sold from the factory, which has a 400-strong workforce, to manufacturers worldwide.
A £4.4 million grant was offered to the firm by the Welsh Government late last year in a bid to create an extra 88 jobs over the next five years – with a focus on developing and producing electric vehicle technology. Calsonic didn’t take up the offer of the money.
Welsh Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Mr Waters said the Cardiff Bay administration would continue to work with the firm. He said: “Very, very concerned that major Llanelli employer Calsonic Kansei is losing 95 jobs in the town.
He added: “I understand the job losses will be a mixture of voluntary and compulsory redundancies, and a 30-day period of consultation has now begun.
“Nia Griffith (Llanelli MP) and I will be doing what we can to work with the company, trade unions and other employers in the area to help the workers directly affected. And the Welsh Government will be extending the taskforce helping workers at Schaeffler to offer practical support.
“The company were offered significant Welsh Government help at the end of last year and we will continue to do what we can to help.”
Wales-wide there are around 150 firms operating in the automotive sector, which employs 18,000 people and generates £3 billion in output.
Llanelli has been hit by further job losses in the industry after automotive employer German-owned Schaeffler, which has 220 people on its staff at Bynea, announced it will shut its doors by the end of the year.
Plaid Cymru Mid and West Wales AM Helen Mary Jones said: “Sadly, this news goes to show that while Westminster politicians squabble with each other over Brexit, people in our communities are suffering. Job losses like this are the consequence of this Brexit shambles, and our town deserves better.
“This is the latest in a series of announcements about potential job losses in Llanelli. I’d like to see the Welsh Government working more closely with Carmarthenshire Council to see how they can improve the economy of Llanelli.”
Carmarthenshire Council leader Emlyn Dole described the Calsonic Kansei developments as concerning.
He said: “Officers from our economic development department have already made contact with the company to see if the council can help avert the job reductions that are proposed. We stand ready to provide any support or assistance that’s needed.
“We will also make contact with the Welsh Government to establish what support they can provide.”
Unite regional officer Paul Evans said: “This is grim news for the workers and their families. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with management to discuss the business rationale for these cuts during the consultation period.
“As recently as December, the company was offered a £4.4m grant by the Welsh government in order to create 88 jobs. Unite will be doing everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies for our members.
“The company blames ‘market instability’ which, we believe, is also compounded by Brexit uncertainty.
“The situation has not been helped by the lack of a coherent UK-wide manufacturing strategy by the Westminster government at this difficult time for the automotive sector and British industry generally. The Tory government has abjectly failed to deliver a joined-up blueprint for manufacturing,
“We have a situation where it is much easier for companies to cut jobs and close factories than in
Nia Griffith and I will be doing what we can to work with the company, trade unions and other employers in the area to help the workers directly affected Llanelli AM Lee Waters
competitor countries, such as France and Germany. The reality is that UK industry is fighting for a vibrant future with one arm tied behind its back.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Business, Economy and Infrastructure, Russell George AM, said: “It is sad to hear that Calsonic have taken this decision and the impact this will have on the staff and their families, as well as the wider community.
“The worldwide reorganisation of the car industry is continuing to affect hard-working people in Wales. The Welsh Labour-led Government needs to ensure that as a country we have the necessary skills and opportunities to attract companies to Wales, providing skilled long-term jobs and that in-work training opportunities are offered to employees that aren’t just on management and leadership. It is worrying that once again the Welsh Government were looking to give a grant to pay for new jobs to be created, instead of focussing of how to attract businesses to Wales, as well as boosting existing businesses, and I would urge the First Minster to stop dithering on the M4 relief road and finally make a decision to show the world that Wales is open for business.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “News of job losses at Calsonic in Llanelli is incredibly disappointing for the workers, their families and the town. We had been working with the company for some time to secure new opportunities for the plant.
“We will do all we can to work with management, trade unions and staff to support those impacted, utilising the support we have available through our ReAct programme and Careers Wales.
“This news only goes to reinforce the vital need for the UK Government to understand the serious instability Brexit is causing in the economy and the consequences their botched negotiations are having on jobs and investment.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The decision for Calsonic Kansei to reduce its workforce at its Llanelli factory is a commercial one.
“This is a concerning time for their workers and the government stands ready to support those affected.”
Calsonic Kansei, Llanelli.