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Tuesday, 2 October, 2001, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Battle as Xerox axes up to 1,350 jobs
Xerox Mitcheldean
Manufacturing at the Mitcheldean plant will go overseas
A battle has been launched to try to prevent the loss of up to 1,350 jobs at Xerox in Gloucestershire.

The copier firm announced the loss of between 920 and 1,020 staff at Mitcheldean on Tuesday .

This is in addition to the 330 people already facing redundancy within six months.

Loss-making manufacturing work at Mitcheldean is to be taken on by another company, Flextronics International, at a plant in the Czech Republic.

The Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union (MSF) is refusing to begin redundancy negotiations.

The union's general secretary, Roger Lyons, said: "This is not being discussed at the moment because we're not accepting the redundancy.

It's a very brutal blow to the Mitcheldean area

Roger Lyons, MSF general secretary
"We're not accepting this brutal decision.

"The company has a bright future. It has major contracts but they're clearly going to supply them from another country."

He accused the company of breaking the law by failing to consult on its plans.

The company denies the accusation.

Some talks had taken place with the union, local politicians and government ministers to try and head off further job losses.

'Substantial pay-offs'

Mr Lyons has been pressing for a meeting about the announcement with the trade and industry secretary, Stephen Byers.

He told BBC News Online: "It's a very brutal blow to the Mitcheldean area"

A spokesman for Xerox said Mitcheldean staff would get pay-offs "substantially above" the legal minimum.

Man at lap top
Xerox is switching into digital machines
"This is obviously a bad situation and something we don't like to do but it is important that Xerox remain a healthy company", he said.

Handing manufacturing to an outside company gives Xerox much more flexibility to reduce or increase output at short notice, without having to carry on paying workers who have nothing to do.

Flextronics has a highly adaptable production line that can be switched from one task to another. It also makes mobile phones.

The news has been described as "catastrophic" for the Forest of Dean, a former mining area which already has relatively high unemployment.

Leader 'devastated'

The Mitcheldean plant once employed more than 3,000 people.

It currently employs 1,500 people at the site - 520 of them on contract.

The leader of the Forest of Dean District Council, Anne Martin, said she was devastated by the news.

Workers at Xerox had been fearing further redundancies since the company announced earlier this year that it was looking at its worldwide manufacturing role.

Cuts rumours

In August there were rumours that 400 jobs would be lost on top of the 330 already announced.

The scale of this week's announcement has stunned the workforce.

The company expects the number of employees in Mitcheldean to be reduced to between 150 and 250 by the end of next year.

The factory will continue to carry out fuser manufacturing, electronics design and possibly some re-manufacturing.

Xerox is also closing a facility at Venray in the Netherlands and two US plants, employing 690 workers, by the end of June 2002.

See also:

19 Apr 01 | Business
Xerox results suggest turnaround
04 Apr 01 | Business
Xerox delays annual report
09 Jan 01 | Business
Xerox denies bankruptcy report
26 Jul 00 | Business
Xerox warning unsettles Wall Street
29 Jan 01 | Business
More jobs cut in tech sector
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