‘Our town deserves bet­ter’ - help pledge af­ter new jobs blow

Llanelli Star - - FRONT PAGE - Liz Perkins @lizperkin­spost eliz­a­[email protected]­line.co.uk 01792 545551

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.

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