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Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 15:51 GMT
MP joins fight for jobs
Perkins Engines plant, Shrewsbury
Workers will be consulted about the redundancies
Shrewsbury MP Paul Marsden has vowed to fight to help workers at the town's troubled Perkins Engines plant.

The company announced that more than half of the 800 strong workforce at its plant in Harlescott, are to be made redundant.

Staff at the factory, which manufactures gas and diesel engines, were left stunned by the news which came just one week before Christmas.

A total of 520 members of staff will lose their jobs over the next year.

'Explore options'

The company, which is owned by American firm Caterpillar, blamed the job cuts on a downturn in the re-manufacturing market.

But Liberal Democrat MP Paul Marsden said he was urgently pressing for a meeting with Caterpillar directors.

He told BBC Radio Shropshire: "I want to ask them if we can start exploring various options with the trade unions to find out what we can do to save these jobs.

"I have spoken at length to one of the directors and I understand that they have been trying to find different alternatives for several months.

"But as far as I am concerned, no stone will be left unturned."

Devastate economy

He added he would be happy to travel to the United States to discuss the situation with Caterpillar directors.

After Tuesday's announcement, Hans Haefeli, the company's director for operations, said: "Perkins has been a significant part of the Shrewsbury community for some time now and we are aware of that.

"I am sure the news will be badly received locally but initially our concerns are mainly with our employees."

The company bought the site from Rolls Royce in 1994 and it is one of four sites across the country, including one in Stafford.

However the Shrewsbury plant is the only one which will be affected by the job cuts.

'Shocked and stunned'

Employees reacted with disbelief at the news.

One said: "I am stunned really.

"I have been with the company for 36 years and it is a big shock."

Another added: "Obviously we are very worried and just trying to get more information, but the whole thing has been a complete shock."

The company anticipates that some jobs will possibly be retained in Shrewsbury in support of Defence customers, re-manufacturing activities and product support.

Consultations with employees and their representatives will take place in January 2002.

Click here to go to BBC Shropshire
See also:

18 Dec 01 | Scotland
NEC cuts jobs and shuts plant
29 Nov 01 | England
Rolls-Royce job cuts confirmed
27 Nov 01 | Scotland
BAE sheds 220 Prestwick jobs
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