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MP pledges help for 200 facing car plant redundancy

Wednesday 26th January 2011 (Andrew Griffiths)

BURTON’S MP has vowed to help hundreds of workers facing the dole queue the proposed closure of a major car component manufacturer in the town.

The Mail revealed yesterday that Kongsberg Automotive, in Centrum 100, will shed up to 200 of its workers from the production side of the company after the Norway-based firm announced it will move its manufacturing abroad.

Tory MP Andrew Griffiths said the news was ‘very disappointing’ both for the employees and the town, but said everyone affected would receive any support they needed.

“I think it is very disappointing news, particularly as it comes completely out of the blue.

“Obviously, the loss of 200 jobs is very worrying.

“I will be looking to see what we can do to help all the people concerned.

“The jobs market has been good in Burton over the last few months, and hopefully these workers will find new opportunities and new employment “I will ensure they get help and support to find these.

“There are jobs out there which will suit the highly skilled workers and employers will be looking for these.” Unite, the union which represents the vast majority of workers affected, said it was negotiating with management after production workers at the factory found out on Friday that they would be made redundant.

The union’s regional officer, Rick Coyle, told the Mail: “There will now be a 90-day consultation with workers and negotiations will be ongoing, but this has come completely out of the blue for workers and they are all shell-shocked.

“They are all carrying on with their jobs but are devastated.” As well as Toyota and Bentley, the company, which has its headquarters in Norway, also supplies components to Honda and Jaguar, leading to suggestions that Kongsberg’s announcement will mean increased costs for its customers.

However, a spokesman for Toyota’s Burnaston plant said Kongsberg was not a direct supplier to the company and the company believed there would be no impact.

A spokesman for Kongsberg Automotive said that much of the sales, marketing, human resources and finance functions qould remain at Burton, which adds up to about 20 people.

He said: This is a strategic move, seen going on through the whole business.

“We are dependent on cutting costs continuously, to make things cheaper but better.” Manufacturing will cease by the end of the year and it is not yet known where production will be moved to.

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