First wave of redundancies
Factory workers begin to leave
SIXTY people left an automotive and industrial parts plant this week, in the first wave of redundancies that will eventually see more than 200 workers relieved of their duties.
Schaeffler, which supplies automotive and industrial parts all over the world, announced in November it was to close its Llanelli plant as it unveiled plans to relocate production to other factories in the US, China, South Korea and Germany.
Workers gathered at the Loughor Boating Club after they left the Yspitty Road, Bynea, plant for the last time to have a farewell drink with the colleagues they have worked with for so many years.
Among those gathered there was Paul Richards, who was a senior manager. He has since found a job at Sony in Bridgend.
Mr Richards, who worked at Schaeffler for five years, said: “It’s been hard, but in credit to everybody involved, the work ethic has been incredible in the circumstances. It’s testament to the Welsh workforce.
“These people are friends at the end of the day so it’s a sad moment.
“These people have a lot of skills and it’s a question for some of where do you go from here and where you can utilise those skills and get a similar salary.”
Stuart Jones, who had worked there for 34 years, was another to lose his job on Friday.
He said: “It was a bit of a surprise when we found out, but people were expecting some sort of bad news for a while. You could see what was happening over the years and you could see something was coming.
“At the beginning in November it was alright, but over the past few months it’s been a case of waiting. You could liken it to death row, as you know it’s coming. I haven’t found anything else, but I’m 56 and at my age there is no rush. You come to a certain point in life where it suits you.
“We’ve worked together so long, and you spend more time with some of these people than you do your own family. We’ll all miss each other.”
Other Schaeffler employees, who are currently still working at the plant, gave an idea of the mood within the workplace. They asked to remain anonymous.
One said: “The morale is not very good, and the workforce is minimal, there’s going to be a real strain on everyone. It’s a sad day, you spend a lot of time together and share a lot of memories together.”
Another added: “It’s a sad day, but as far as people in there today are concerned, everybody has shown 100% commitment. Those leaving today can hold their heads up high.”
A spokeswoman for Schaeffler (UK) Ltd said: “In January 2019 Schaeffler (UK) Ltd confirmed that manufacturing operations would transfer to other existing Schaeffler facilities and the Llanelli site would close by the end of the year, resulting in just over 200 job losses.
“Today, 60 employees were released from the business in the first wave of redundancies.
“Part of the closure plan was to ensure that we supported our employees in accessing critical services and to provide help to prepare them for the future
At the beginning in November it was alright, but over the past few months it’s been a case of waiting. You could liken it to death row, as you know it’s coming Schaeffler worker Stuart Jones
who has been made redundant
The statement read that the firm provided, in collaboration with members of the taskforce set up by the Welsh Government, a suite of support focused on enabling employees to transition out of Schaeffler in to jobs with other employers, self employment or retirement.
The statement added: “The suite of support includes CV writing and interview skills workshops to assist in job search and success at interview, business start up workshop, IT skills training, a jobs fair with a range of employers from different sectors, many of whom have already offered jobs to some of our employees, we’ve arranged for DWP and Careers Wales to come on site and provide one to one support, and held presentations from the pension provider.
“The local county councillor, Derek Cundy, visited our recent jobs fair, which was held on site, to see that the taskforce set up by Welsh Assembly Government in conjunction with Schaeffler was delivering what we were aiming to do in providing the support service for the employees that unfortunately were to be made redundant.”
Schaeffler say Mr Cundy wrote to them afterwards saying: “It was gratifying to see that many of the processes and procedures that I was expecting, were being instigated in preparing the workforce for interviews that they will be taking for their new employment in the areas of filling in their CVs, electronic CV application and interview techniques as well as college courses being arranged including skills upgrading in the latest computer systems. I would therefore like to thank your company for making the effort to help, with ourselves, in supporting the workforce and by implications their families.
“I would also like to thank the employers who turned out to offer opportunities in the form of jobs, but also the colleges academically and the state in the form of the DWP and careers office, indeed all very laudable.
“I and my colleagues both at county and at the Welsh and Westminster government are hugely supportive of these workers and will be monitoring their progress in the future.”
Staff walk away from the Schaeffler UK factory in Bynea as 60 of the plant’s 200 workers left the firm on Friday.