Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Jobs blow for 275 at two plants

A redundant worker at Budelpak in Maesteg gives his views

Up to 155 jobs could be lost at a factory which makes chemicals for the medical technology industry.

GE Healthcare says over the next year to 18 months they are to stop making radiochemicals at their site in Whitchurch, Cardiff, which employs 420.

It hopes to replace the jobs with up to 150 new biotechnology research posts but not all will be redeployed.

Meanwhile, another 120 job losses have been confirmed at the Budelpak COSI cosmetics factory in Maesteg.

Almost the entire remaining workforce will be out of work on Friday.

The decision follows unsuccessful attempts to find a buyer for the factory, which went into administration at the end of November, laying off 263 workers.

Just 23 people are being kept on at the plant, an employer in Bridgend county since the 1960s.

Alistair Wardell, from the administrators Grant Thornton, said on Wednesday: "Unfortunately we have had no choice but to take these measures.

The GE Healthcare site in Cardiff will continue to develop pharmaceutical products

"We have maintained a regular dialogue with workforce representatives, the relevant trade union and local agencies, while we sought to secure a purchaser.

"We continue to do everything we can to ensure the fullest support for affected staff at this difficult time."

Meanwhile, GE Healthcare said its decision to stop producing radiochemicals came after a "comprehensive review".

A spokesman said: "The employees concerned at the site were informed yesterday and the changes will be phased in slowly over the next 12 to 18 months."

The two announcements came as official statistics released on Wednesday show that unemployment in Wales has risen by 14,000 in the three months between August and October.

The total number of those out of work now stands at 94,000, a rate of 6.6%.

The most worrying figure is the rise in unemployment amongst young men
Jenny Willott MP, Liberal Democrats

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said it was a "bleak winter" for nearly 100,000 families.

"Despite numerous economic summits and countless initiatives ministers seem to have no idea how to stop rising unemployment," she said.

"Wales is being hit harder than any other part of the United Kingdom in this economic downturn. As a consequence it will take longer to recover from it."

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Jenny Willott said the figures were "grim reading" for the Welsh economy.

"The most worrying figure is the rise in unemployment amongst young men," said the Cardiff Central MP.

"The number of young men on the dole in Wales has risen by more than 50% in a year. But the Government's planned changes to the New Deal will leave them on benefits for 12 months before helping them get a job, rather than the current six months."

Meanwhile, newspaper and magazine distributor Smiths News is to relocate its business from Cardiff and Bridgend with a 1m investment in Newport.

It will take over the old LG Electronics factory in February and the distribution centre will also include a recycling facility.

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