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David Rowe-Beddoe, chairman WDA
"We cannot go on working in the way we have done for the last few decades"
 real 28k

Tony Harris, GMB union
"My reaction was one of shock, sadness and disappointment"
 real 28k

Mike German, economic development minister
"The news came as a bolt out of the blue"
 real 28k

Professor Garel Rhys, business analyst
"What these companies should have done was develop products for the future"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's Caroline Evans
"The news that more than half the workforce was to go caught everyone by surprise"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Unions shocked by Panasonic cuts
Panasonic, south Wales
Panasonic is halving its workforce in south Wales
Unions and management at the Panasonic plant in Cardiff have discussed plans for up to 1,400 job losses.

The Japanese television manufacturer announced on Tuesday that it would be cutting its south Wales workforce by up to half.

Union leaders expressed shock and anger at the scale of the cutbacks.

David Rowe-Beddoe, chairman of the Welsh Development Agency, said his organisation had only been informed about the cuts on Tuesday.

Welsh Assembly economic development minister Mike German said the news had come as a "bolt out of the blue".

Announcing a partial switch of production to eastern Europe, Panasonic blamed uncertainty over Britain's entry into the euro as a reason for the cuts.

The company also announced a shift away from mass production of domestic appliances to become a "value producer".

Panasonic personnel manager David Fowler also pointed to problems over the market price of electrical goods as a factor in the cutbacks.

The company announced that it would be cutting 700 permanent workers and 600 temporary posts.

This latest annoucement brings the total jobs lost in television production to 2,000 in the last six months.

Last week, Sony said it would be cutting 400 jobs at its south Wales plants at Bridgend and Pencoed, with the company refocusing on digital television production.
Sony plant, south Wales
Cutbacks: Sony is axing 400 jobs

Mr Fowler said that all 1,800 permanent staff at the Pansonic plant at Pentwyn had been offered the choice of voluntary redundancy and that 1,000 workers had applied for the package.

He added that the redundancy offer would remain open until Friday, when the final 700 would be chosen from across all departments.

"We are moving from being a volume producer to being a value producer," Mr Fowler said.

The redundancies will not come into force until Christmas, when temporary staff reach the end of their contracts.

Production transfer

From 2001, the remaining workforce will continue to produce televisions, microwave ovens, laptop computers, plasma TVs and projection televisions.

All other production is due to be transferred to a Czech plant, which has been open for four years, which currently employs 800 to 1,000 people and where more were now expected to be taken on.

Welsh Assembly presiding officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas said an urgent debate on the Panasonic job losses would take place on Thursday.

Jon Owen Jones MP
Jon Owen Jones MP: 'Enormous down-sizing'
The news was broken in the assembly chamber during a debate on careers education.

Jon Owen Jones MP said the switch by companies to digital production would only benefit domestic markets in the short-term.

Competing on an international level raised deeper questions about the pound and the euro, he said.

"We desperately need a strategy to save maufacturing.

"No-one is saying we should go into the euro with the pound at its current level.

"People do not seem to understand how important it is for our manufacturing base that we compete on equal terms with our European partners."

Liberal Democrat Assembly member for Cardiff Central Jenny Randerson said: "The sheer scale of these job losses is devastating and the effects will be felt far beyond Cardiff."

'Further bad news'

Plaid Cymru's economic development spokesperson Dr Phil Williams called on Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan to meet Chancellor Gordon Brown to discuss "the deepening crisis in the Welsh economy".

"These policies are beneficial to south east England but disastrous for the manufacturing regions in the north of England and in Wales where companies have to find efficiency savings in the face of the strong pound.

"As long as the Government refuses to make its mind up on the euro then we can only expect further bad news similar to that announced today," Dr Williams added.

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19 Oct 00 | Wales
MP seeks talks over job losses
17 Aug 00 | Business
Digital TV use spreading
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