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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
Electronics giant to cut 400 jobs
Japanese electronics giant Sony has announced it is cutting 400 jobs at its television plants in south Wales.
The strong pound and fierce competition from other television makers were blamed for the cuts.
The 400 redundancies will hit its plants at Bridgend and neighbouring Pencoed in south Wales, which currently employ 3,100 staff.
It follows a major reorganisation by Sony in Europe to cope with the changes in the television markets.
Welsh Assembly Economic Development Minister Michael German - on his first day in the post - said the news had come as a "bitter blow" to workers.
Tony Abbott, managing director of Sony Manufacturing UK, said: "We are very sad that so many of our colleagues are having to leave.
"The reorganisation was very necessary if we are to remain a major economic force in south Wales.
"This is an opportunity to prepare for the future."
The plants produce high quality televisions and computer screens - a market which is facing strong competition from other manufacturers.
The workers and AEEU leaders have been consulted over the job cuts.
Commenting on the cuts, First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "I am saddened by today's news, but am very familiar with the reasons being cited by the company.
"Manufacturers are finding today's trading conditions particularly difficult in view of sterling's strength and the weak euro."
The announcement comes just 18 months after Sony praised the flexibility of Welsh workers after 300 jobs were lost at a sister television factory in Germany.
The Japanese company switched major work making widescreen televisions from Germany to its plants in Wales.
It follows tight restrictions on a 35-hour working week with unions at the Sony plant in Germany.
The company even launched a recruitment drive to bring an extra 100 jobs to the 4,000-strong base in Wales.
Sony first opened in Wales back in 1973, expanding to employ more than 4,000 workers - winning awards for export orders.
The Queen has visited their plant and praised Sony's "commendable commitment" to the workforce.
Wales is largest centre in Europe for Japanese electronics firms - with 60 Japanese companies employing more than 20,000 Welsh workers.
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