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10,000 jobs lost every single week

This article is over 18 years, 4 months old
A jobs massacre is taking place across huge swathes of British industry
Issue 1866

NEW FIGURES from the government’s Office for National Statistics show that an incredible 10,000 factory jobs are being lost every week. Some 130,000 workers have lost their jobs in the last three months alone. James Dyson, vacuum cleaner maker, was slammed last year for throwing 800 workers at his Wiltshire plant on the scrap heap. Last week, Dyson added insult to injury by shifting a further 65 jobs to Malaysia.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Just a few weeks before Dyson’s announcement, bosses tore apart the lives of some 5,000 workers at Alstom train-making plant in Birmingham by announcing redundancies there.

The chair of Alstom, Pierre Bilger, became the object of fury when it was announced he was to receive a £2.7 million payout as the company sank. The outcry forced Bilger to pay back his ‘golden parachute’. Now there are fears that others could be hit by similar problems. The Bombardier plant in Derby, another train-making site, is wielding the axe over 1,800 jobs. And other industries are also facing further decimation.

Some 10,000 jobs in the coal industry could be lost if mining giant BHP Billiton takes over the Drax power station in Selby, North Yorkshire. BHP Billiton is expected to bring in its coal from cheaper mines in South America and South Africa to power the Drax station, which is Britain’s biggest power station.

That could lead to the closure of at least three mines and the loss of up to 3,500 jobs at UK Coal. A further 6,500 jobs in related industries could also be hit. Brian Gilbertson, the former boss of BHP Billiton, got a £4 million ‘golden goodbye’ last year.

Figures from the Chamber of Mines in South Africa show that miners working for Billiton can be paid as little as 2,000 rand, just £165, a month. Britain’s largest milk processing plant, United Milk, in Wiltshire, has also been put into administration, placing 125 jobs at risk. The company had an annual turnover of more than £100 million last year.

Happy bank holiday…you’re sacked

SHOP WORKERS are also in fear of the sack. The country’s largest independent electrical goods retailer, PowerHouse, has slashed 800 jobs and cast a shadow over a further 2,200. PowerHouse is the third largest electrical retailer in Britain after Currys and Comet.

The company went into receivership because it couldn’t get insurance for the non-payment of debts and because a clamp down on pushing unnecessary warranties hit their profits.

The jobs blow at PowerHouse came as three other companies hit the rocks. Bradford-based Carpets International, the country’s largest carpet manufacturer, has gone into receivership. It has been hit by new trends for wooden floors and floor tiles. The group employs 1,200 people and has an annual turnover of approximately £100 million in outlets across Britain.

Over 550 jobs are to be axed at a tyre firm in Plymouth. The Cooper Tire and Rubber Company is cutting about 403 jobs from two manufacturing plants by spring 2005. The US-based company claimed the cuts are being made to improve the long term performance of its worldwide business.

It has 52 manufacturing plants in 13 countries around the world. Workers were being told of the decision on Friday of last week, just as the bank holiday weekend started.

A nuclear disaster

THE nuclear reprocessing plant at Thorp, Sellafield, is set to close by 2010. Thorp was hailed as the saviour of the British nuclear industry by nuclear enthusiasts and slammed as a lethal white elephant by campaigners when it opened nine years ago. It cost £1.8 billion.

The reprocessing of nuclear waste into plutonium and uranium was touted as the perfect solution to dealing with dangerous nuclear materials. But tons of deadly material is lying under ground at Sellafield. British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) owns Sellafield. The firm would have gone bankrupt two years ago, but was bailed out by the government.


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