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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
LG Philips shuts - 870 jobs go
Workers at the LG Philips plant
A downturn in the market has been blamed for the cuts
Workers at an electronics plant are facing an uncertain future after being told that nearly 900 of their jobs will be lost in August.

Directors of the LG Phillips Display factory in Newport announced on Thursday that the site is to close after a dramatic downturn in the market.

It is another blow for a community which has already faced a number of job losses including the more than 100 at Corus' Llanwern steelworks two weeks ago.

The LG plant was billed as one of Europe's biggest inward investments and people living in Newport were promised that it would revive the area.

But the closure of the factory, which makes colour tubes for televisions and monitors, is the final chapter in a story which had promised to end with thousands of high-tech jobs coming to a traditional unemployment black spot.

It is a huge blow - it is not just 870 jobs - it is 870 families who will be devastated
Peter Radmilovic, worker

When LG announced it was bringing a plant to Wales in 1996, it pledged to bring more than 6,000 jobs to Newport.

One of the workers, Peter Radmilovic, said that when he was first employed at LG Philips Displays, he was told the plant's future was so secure he could expect to retire there.

"I feel let down - I feel we could have been told about the plans a lot earlier," he said.

"I am very doubtful these jobs can be replaced - there is not a lot in this area."

Mr Radmilovic, who is a convener of trade union Amicus said that even though staff had been expecting the news for five months, the announcement was devastating.

"It is a huge blow - it is not just 870 jobs - it is 870 families who will be devastated," he said.

"The reality has hit home - the feeling in the factory is of quiet resignation.

"I think the bitterness will come later - the prospects are not good."

Another worker Mike Wallis said: "It is a big relief that the announcement has come.

"It's been two years of not knowing anything and now that we've been told today, it is a lot of weight off people's shoulders.

"At least now we know where we stand now.

"Me and my partner are both going to be on the dole now and are going to have to find jobs," he added.


Bertie Good's daughter Louisa has worked at the plant since it opened.

"It came as a big shock - the phone hasn't stopped ringing with her colleagues phoning about it," said Mr Good.

"There have been worries among the workers since September about their jobs, but then it went quiet.

"She hasn't got much of a clue about what she is going to do now - it is a big thing to take in that you are losing your job."

People living in and around Newport have described the job losses as "devastating".

Newsagent Richard Dawes said: "Since we heard the news this morning, everyone has been talking about it - it is the talk of the shop.

It seems like it is the final nail in the coffin for Newport
Richard Dawes, newsagent

"People are so angry about it because nearly everyone knows someone who works there.

"Customers are disgusted and devastated by it all.

"It seems like it is the final nail in the coffin for Newport.

"They say they are regenerating the city centre but that is going to take time and there are no jobs for people to go to," he added.

'Bitter blow'

Phil Styles, general manager of manufacturing at Newport, said a dramatic downfall in the last six months had led to the decision.

"When we set this plant up five years ago, the market was very buoyant," he said.

"It was foreseen the lifetime of CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) technology would be longer than what has taken place."

LG Philips plant
The LG Philips plant makes tubes for televisions and monitors

He added that letters had been sent to workers' homes and the firm was hoping to help workers find new jobs.

The company says it is now entering a 90-day statutory consultation period with the work force and unions.

Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies said the cuts were "extremely disappointing" but hoped most employees would be able to find work.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn said it was a "bitter blow" to the city and sympathised with the workers.

Newport City Council described the closure of the plant as "devastating" for the workers and their families.

We share the disappointment that, what seemed to be a fantastic opportunity for Newport and south Wales, has largely been so short lived
Councillor John Jenkins

Councillor John Jenkins, cabinet member for development and employment, said the council was also concerned about the impact on the companies that supply LG Philips.

"We were full of great hope for the future when LG announced that they were going to locate in Newport." he said.

"Now seven years on, we share the disappointment that, what seemed to be a fantastic opportunity for Newport and south Wales, has largely been so short lived."

LG Philips has also announced 71 jobs would be lost at a plant in Southport, Merseyside.

In the last few years, Wales has seen the loss of nearly 2,000 television component jobs at Sony, Panasonic and Hitachi plants.

BBC Wales' Nick Palit
"The Korean firm was lured to Newport with a multimillion pound grant"

LG: The dream that died
22 May 03  |  Wales
Jobs axed as factory closes
22 May 03  |  Merseyside
Assembly seeks LG crisis talks
07 Sep 02  |  Wales
LG Philips 'might cut UK jobs'
06 Sep 02  |  Business

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