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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
NEC cuts 600 Scottish jobs
Police at the NEC buidling in Livingston
Police gather at NEC as workers are told the news
Electronics firm NEC confirmed on Tuesday that it will cut 4,000 jobs worldwide, with 600 of those going at its plant in Livingston, Scotland.

Workers at the West Lothian site were told at about 0830BST about the redundancies which are part of the company's major restructuring plans.

They are a result of NEC's decision to stop producing memory chips for personal computers at Livingston.

I see no indication of any real upturn in the foreseeable future

Hideto Goto, NEC Semiconductors (UK)
Hideto Goto, managing director of NEC Semiconductors (UK), said he deeply regretted the move, but added it was necessary.

He added that the current global semiconductor trading situation was considered to be the "worst ever encountered by the industry".

And he said: "I see no indication of any real upturn in the foreseeable future.

"Given this climate the action taken, although severe, is essential to ensure a successful future for the plant, the remaining staff and to minimise the impact on the local economy."

The company announced last Friday that Scottish jobs would be cut after a huge drop in profits.

The Livingston plant produces one fifth of NEC's D-RAM microchips, which are used to power personal computers.

Micro chips
The Livingston plant produces memory chips for computers
But the price of these chips has collapsed in the past year, falling from a high of $15 to less than $2.

This dramatic slump forced the company to speed up plans to phase out D-RAM production over the next two to three years.

The added pressure of mounting stockpiles of semiconductors and a drop in demand for mobile phones prompted NEC to announce tens of thousands of jobs worldwide.

The fallout is expected to mean a 50% cut in production at its plant in Livingston, as well as the loss of almost half its 1,600-strong workforce.

Fears for the plant first emerged more than two weeks ago when a Japanese newspaper predicted that the company would cut 800 jobs at Livingston.

The move will be a further blow for the electronics industry in Scotland, as West Lothian has already seen the loss of 3,000 jobs through the closure of the Motorola mobile phone plant in Bathgate.

'Devastating blow'

Danny Carrigan, regional secretary for the AEEU engineering union, said hopes that the job losses would not be so high had been dashed.

He added: "This is a devastating blow to Livingston and bad news for Silicon Glen.

"The task force set up for Motorola should have its remit extended to cover NEC.

"We had hoped the numbers wouldn't be as high as 600 but that has come to nothing.

"We are reeling from one crisis to another in Silicon Glen. Let's hope we come to the end of this recession in electronics sooner rather than later."

NEC said it would work with the UK Government, the Scottish Executive and other agencies to help workers retrain and find alternative jobs.

Stuart Duffin, West Lothian Chamber of Commerce
"It is not all doom and gloom, there is hope for the future"
Hayley Millar, business correspondent
"Workers learned the news earlier today"
Hayley Millar reports
"This is a serious blow, leading to a cut in almost half the Livingston workforce"
See also:

27 Jul 01 | Scotland
NEC confirms job cuts
27 Jul 01 | Business
Fujitsu and NEC profits slide
31 Jul 01 | Scotland
Reaction to NEC job losses
26 Jul 01 | Scotland
Fresh fears for 800 NEC jobs
11 Jul 01 | Scotland
NEC chief in jobs talks
10 Jul 01 | Scotland
Fears over 800 chip plant jobs
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