Jobs on the line
JAPANESE electronics giant Matsushita announced last week it would cut 1,400 jobs at its South Wales Panasonic factory. Its plans to shift much of its TV production to the Czech Republic will devastate workers' lives.
Anger at rising job insecurity exploded in trade and industry secretary Steven Byers's face during a visit to Merseyside. Over 800 workers from the Cammell Laird shipbuilders downed tools and held a spontaneous demonstration as Byers arrived in Birkenhead. They pelted Byers with hard hats and protective gloves over New Labour's decision not to give a lucrative Ministry of Defence contract to Cammell Laird. The militant protest forced Byers to hold emergency meetings with unions and Cammell Laird management.
He has agreed to an 18 million government aid package to help secure future contracts and jobs at the shipbuilders.