Friday, September 4, 1998 Published at 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Business: The Company File
Fujitsu axes 600 UK jobs
Fujitsu's Durham plant to close
The Japanese chip maker Fujitsu is to close its semiconductor plant in the north of England with the loss of all 600 jobs.
The factory is in the constituency of Prime Minister Tony Blair who said he was "saddened" by the closure and would visit the plant to talk to workers and management.
The factory will be mothballed from early December while a buyer is sought.
Earlier this year Fujitsu had announced that it would suspend the production of memory chips - D-Rams - at the plant in the year 2000, and might abandon this business altogether.
3,000 Northern jobs gone
"If this true, it will mean we have lost 3,000 jobs in August and early September and they're just the large ones. We have also seen numerous losses of 200 to 300 which have not made the headlines over the past two or three months."
Union leaders have said they will press the prime minister to set up a special task force to attack the unemployment fallout from the downturn in manufacturing.
The company invested £350m ($580m) into the plant which opened in 1991 employing 570 staff.
Fujitsu has seven plants in the UK, its largest investment outside Japan.
Last month the German electronics firm Siemens announced that it would close down its semiconductor factory near Tyneside, with a loss of 1,100 jobs.
On Thursday, the US chip maker Motorola confirmed that it plans to shed 150-200 staff at its East Kilbride factory near Glasgow.
Motorola employs 1,800 people in two plants there, which are going to be merged.
Tony Joyce, Motorola's UK director of communications, said: "The chip prices are falling all the time. The problem with the Far East market means that not only have the markets that we used to sell into reduced, but also customers are buying what's available at cheaper prices than we can compete with."
Meanwhile, thousands of new jobs could be at risk following the decision by two of South Korea's leading conglomerates, Hyundai and LG, to merge their computer chip businesses.
The deal may threaten LG's planned investment in Newport, South Wales, which is to create 2,000 jobs.
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