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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 17:55 GMT
Redundancy talks for fibreglass workers
Owens Corning in Wrexham
Workers were told of the closure at a mass meeting
Union bosses and managers are to resume talks on Thursday morning over the sudden closure of a fibreglass factory in north Wales which will see the loss of 230 jobs.

Production at Owens Corning Fibreglass ended on Tuesday, shortly after the announcement.

Transport and General Workers Union representative Mike Jeffries said three hours of talks on Wednesday morning had been "productive and constructive".

Owens Corning sign
The site is expected to close by May 2003

Negotiations over redundancy packages for the workers will restart at the TGWU offices in Flint at 1000 GMT.

Staff will be paid until 3 January 2003 but only a few workers will be kept on to oversee the clousre of the factory's furnace.

The union said the vast majority of staff had left the plant for the last time.

Staff were sent home on full pay following the announcement, which was broken to workers in a mass meeting at the Bryn Lane Industrial Estate facility.

The gates of the factory are expected to close for good in May 2003.

Review

The closure follows a global review of the company aimed at improving performance and profits.

Managers blamed the strength of the pound and said they were shifting production elsewhere in Europe.

Bosses said the plant, which makes materials for the glass reinforcements market, had made operating losses for the past five years.

Manufacture of those products will be shifted to company sites around the world.

Company spokesman Ian Hunt
Ian Hunt: The shutdown is not a surprise

Factory spokesman Ian Hunt said the shutdown was not unexpected but had hit staff hard in the run up to Christmas.

"The workers at the plant have been told that we will be stopping production and that was following a review which was carried out in the United States into the competitiveness of the Wrexham plant," he said.

"The Wrexham plant's costs are very high compared to our competition - 80% of what Wrexham makes goes into Europe.

"We have a lot of competition which we just can't compete with.

Devastating news

"The news wasn't unexpected, we have talked about the future and the weaknesses of the operation over the last six months.

"However, obviously it's a shock when people are actually told they've lost their jobs."

The company's other Welsh sites at Pontypool and Queensferry were sold off two years ago.

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas said: "I know that the workers there will be devastated, especially at this time of year.

Fibreglass
The Wrexham company makes fibreglass

"Having spoken to the management, it is clear that the redundancies are not in any way attributable to the excellent workforce."

One worker, father-of-three Cliff Benyon, 42, said he and his colleagues were shocked by the news they were to lose their jobs.

"It was utter shock. The men never dreamed they were going to lose their jobs," he said.

'Mortgage'

"I've got a mortgage and children in school.

"We are going to have to tighten our belts to get through this difficult period."

A US $5bn global corporation, Owens Corning invented fibreglass - a reinforced plastic material composed of glass fibres embedded in a resin matrix.


More from north east Wales
See also:

03 Dec 02 | Wales
27 Sep 00 | Business
14 Nov 99 | Science/Nature
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