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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Area reeling from downturn
Motorola sign
Motorola's closure was a severe blow
The spectre of the loss of 800 jobs at NEC's semiconductor plant in Livingston is a further blow to an area already suffering from a series of high profile closures and job cuts.

Motorola began closing its doors in nearby Bathgate last month with the loss of 3,000 mobile phone jobs.

Efforts to find work for former Motorola staff could be seriously hampered if NEC decides to shed half of its 1,600 workforce at Livingston.

West Lothian, which has benefited from strong economic growth in the last two years, appears to be becoming a victim of the global slowdown in the electronics industry.

Computer chip
The price of D-RAM chips has fallen sharply
The area had been enjoying a period of relative economic prosperity with the influx of a series of "new economy" investors.

Names like Motorola and Quintiles had brought work to replace older names like Continental Tyres, Daks Simpson, Levi Strauss and Grampian Foods.

However, the global downturn in the demand for computer chips, mobile phones and other electronics seems to be posing a serious threat to an area which had become known as Scotland's Silicon Glen.

NEC originally set up in West Lothian in 1983 as a testing and finishing plant for components manufactured in Japan.

The factory was the second opened by the corporation in Europe and only its 16th outside Japan.

1bn invested

It was developed as one of the most technically-advanced factories of its kind in the world.

Two wafer fabrication plants were later developed in successive waves of investment at the West Lothian site, which has totalled 1bn over the last 15 years, according to the company.

Councillor Willie Dunn
Willie Dunn: "Worrying situation"
Last year, the corporation invested further in producing components for mobile phones, moving away from the powerful D-RAM computer chips.

Reports in Japan that half the Livingston workforce could go have not been confirmed by the company but there was growing concern on Tuesday that the fate of the plant could soon be sealed.

West Lothian Council economic development spokesman Willie Dunn said: "If that is the case obviously it is a worrying situation, although at this stage there is no confirmation of the position from NEC.

"We will be seeking clarification of the situation as matter of extreme urgency. We will be seeking talks with the local management to see what assistance we can offer at this very difficult period.

"We will also be contacting the Scottish Executive and Scottish Enterprise to try to establish what the situation is at NEC.

"NEC have been established in West Lothian for the last 20 years and they are one of our major local employers. We will do all we can to help the company and the workforce."

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