ABOUT 600 workers face losing their jobs at an electronics plant in what has been described as a hammer blow for Wrexham.
Employees at the Sharp factory in Llay were left devastated yesterday after company bosses told them up to 250 workers and about 360 agency staff were to be laid off.
The move will see Sharp end solar panel production operation at the factory on the Llay Industrial Estate by the end of February.
Some workers were reported to be reduced to tears yesterday as they faced the prospect of a bleak Christmas and an uncertain future in 2014.
Speaking outside the factory, one worker said: “I am absolutely devastated. To be told you will lose your job is terrible.
“The fact this comes around Christmas and the New Year is even worse. There are people with young families who are completely at a loss over what they are going to do or how to provide for their children. Some are walking around like zombies.”
The employee said the news was broken to him yesterday morning in a section meeting of about 50 people.
“Afterwards there was a sense of disbelief and anger. People are crying because they are so upset,” he said.
“I have been here for years and now I will have to start looking for work. It not just us who will be affected.
“Sharp is a major employer in the area and losing so many jobs will hit Wrexham’s economy as a whole.”
A colleague said: “I have been there more than 15 years. It is a good place to work.
This has come as a total shock. I don’t know what I am going to do.”
An agency worker said: “I have worked at the factory for a few months. I have got other work lined up. I feel so sorry for everyone losing their jobs. There are people who have been there since leaving school.”
Sharp chief executive officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa Hiroshi Sasaoka said the decision to close the solar manufacturing facility was difficult to make, but unavoidable in the current business conditions.
“It is with sincere regret that we have decided to end solar panel production in Wrexham, he said.
“Our employees are our greatest asset and we have been fortunate to have a loyal, hardworking and committed workforce since we began solar production here in 2004.
“The Wrexham facility will continue to produce microwave ovens. We will be investigating additional products for development.”
Once the job losses have taken effect, it is estimated there will be 140 Sharp employees left at the site. Details about agency worker numbers have yet to be released.
A statement from Gap Personnel, which provides agency staff to Sharp’s Llay plant, said: “It is with real sadness that we see the solar operation close in Wrexham, but have been been fully briefed on the background by the management team at Sharp.
“Over the coming months, we will be working alongside Sharp to ensure our valued agency workers and, Sharp employees affected by the closure, are provided with all the support required.”
l ARE you affected by the job losses? Get in touch by calling the Leader newsdesk on 01352 707769.