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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Tobacco giant will axe 530 jobs
BAT factory
BAT's Southampton plant will remain open but 530 jobs will be lost
A cigarette factory in Southampton is axing 530 jobs as manufacturing is transferred elsewhere in Europe.

British American Tobacco (BAT) said it would not shut the site as 475 posts in research, development and distributions would remain.

Manufacturing is to be transferred to Poland, Romania and Switzerland, with a further 66 jobs expected to go at a plant at Dundalk, Republic of Ireland.

The firm said a number of reviews found the plants were not viable.

This is devastating news for the workers and their families
Ian MacLean, national officer for Amicus

Allan Short, head of operations for BAT, said: "This is a very difficult time for all of us.

"We intend to start consultations immediately and we are committed to doing all we can to mitigate the impact of any job losses.

"Regrettably, higher costs in western Europe and the increasing trend towards local production have combined to turn the tide against our manufacturing operations in the UK and Ireland."

Most of the cigarettes manufactured at Southampton are exported but the merchandise produced in Dundalk is mainly sold in Ireland.

'Extremely disappointed'

The Southampton site produced 24 billion cigarettes a year. The jobs will be lost over a two-year period.

They follow the tobacco giant's announcement last month that 25% of the Southampton production would be switched to Singapore and Korea.

Ian MacLean, national officer for Amicus, said: "This is devastating news for the workers and their families.

"BAT is one of the biggest employers in Southampton and I am extremely disappointed that the company has decided to end production at the plant.

"These jobs are of high quality and are very important to the local economy."

Reducing costs

He added: "It is very sad that companies like BAT have found it difficult to operate in the UK and that the meltdown in manufacturing here is continuing."

Mike Budd, regional Amicus officer said: "BAT have been conducting a review at the Southampton site but we never expected that to result in closure.

"The company said their decision is down to reducing transportation costs but the savings they will make by shifting production to Switzerland are minuscule.

"This is a company that makes 1.5 billion profit a year. It's unbelievable that for the sake of a few pennies they would be prepared to sacrifice their loyal and long-serving employees in Southampton."

Councillor Adrian Vinson, leader of Southampton City Council, described BAT's announcement as "not entirely unexpected".

He said: "It presents a serious challenge to employment opportunities in Southampton and, in particular, within the outer Shirley area.

"The city council will continue to work closely with BAT and other relevant agencies to provide the best possible safeguards to those affected both directly and indirectly."

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