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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Talks over Bridgend's job losses
The Wrigley factory in Bridgend

Union representatives have met with bosses at the Altoids sweets factory to see if its planned closure can be avoided, saving 173 jobs.

The talks came a day after managers at the Sony plant in nearby Bridgend held talks with unions over their plans to close the site with 650 job cuts.

American firm Wrigley has said it was shutting its Altoids sweet factory, with the loss of 173 jobs.

It made the announcement the day after taking control of the plant.

During a six-hour meeting, management firstly indicated why there was a proposal to close the factory, before the unions - USDAW, SATA and AMICUS - responded.

The factory supplies confectionery to the US market and one reason for closure is said to be Wrigleys' desire to switch production to the United States.

'Slightly changed angle'

The unions argued that Wrigley was a company that could sell its products all over the world and by closing Bridgend, would lose the opportunity to grow in Europe.

Another meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday when the unions will submit a counter proposal to keep the plant open.

Byron Merit, Usdaw official at the site, said that the company had "slightly changed angle".

He said that Wrigley had previously said they were transferring the work to America but now it was a "proposal."

We want the WDA to now start looking again at Bridgend and pulling in the investment
Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon

In the meantime, it has emerged that MPs Madeline Moon, Huw Irranca Davies and John Smith will meet the prime minister on 13 July to discuss how a task force can help alleviate the job losses at the two Sony factories.

On Wednesday, the Japanese electronics giant announced it was closing its Bridgend plant and scaling down production at its Pencoed site.

A total of 400 jobs will go at its main factory in Bridgend by March 2006. Another 250 will be lost at the Pencoed assembly plant, leaving 300 jobs.

The losses were blamed on the downturn in demand for traditional televisions.

On Thursday morning, Bridgend AM Carwyn Jones, Ogmore AM Janice Gregory and union leaders met Sony managers at the Bridgend plant.

Mr Jones said the delegation had discussed the possibility of Sony paying a "loyalty bonus" in redundancy payments to employees who had given many years' service.

And he said the group had called for the process of the firm selling its Bridgend site "to be made as easy as possible".

Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon said at the meeting with the prime minister, the MPs would be looking for a contribution from the Welsh Development Agency.

Sony plant closure 'saddens' town
29 Jun 05 |  South East Wales

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