'Union was not consulted on plans to cut jobs at Sharp plant'

Published date: 18 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A WORKERS’ representative says the Unite union was not consulted over plans to cut hundreds of jobs at an electronics factory.

Talks will take place tomorrow over the hundreds of jobs being axed at the Sharp factory in Llay, with representatives from the company’s management and the union Unite due to meet at the company’s site.

On Monday Sharp announced about 600 jobs were to be cut at the plant, with 250 permanent staff and about 365 agency staff losing their jobs when solar panel production ends by the end of February.

And yesterday Bryan Apsley, North East Wales regional officer for Unite, said Unite had not been consulted on the plans and that the closure of the solar panel line was relayed to staff before the union was informed.

“I don’t regard that as proper consultation,” he said.

“There is supposed to be consultation first and then a decision taken afterwards.”

He added: “I have met union representatives from Sharp and the mood was despondent.

“We will do the very best we can for our members.

“The loss of these jobs is massive blow for Wales and the UK.

“It seems production is to be switched to China, which leaves us in an impossible situation.”

A community leader has described the plight of workers who face losing their jobs as heartbreaking.

Cllr Terry Boland, who represents Llay ward on Wrexham Council, said: “It upsets me to see that people are going to lose their employment. This is heartbreaking.

“It is particularly hard as the announcement has come in the run up to Christmas.”

Cllr Boland said everyone at Sharp took great pride in their work and the company has a long history as a good employer in the area.

“This terrible news is a big blow for the community. At least Sharp will continue to produce microwaves at Llay. I would hope that in years to come they will be able to go some way towards building up the numbers of workers.”

Speaking on behalf of business collective Wrexham Business Professionals, Gill Atkinson, said: “Our thoughts are very much with the people who are losing their jobs, particularly as this announcement has come so close to Christmas.

“It is obviously a shame for all of the people concerned but I would emphasise the company’s decision was taken as a result of market conditions across Europe and is in no way a reflection on Wrexham, which is a fantastic place to do business.”

Bruce Cross, managing director of South Wales-based solar energy company GB-Sol, said: “Sharp has joined the long list of multi-national businesses that have been enticed into Wales, but who withdraw when circumstances change.

“The route to sustainable jobs is to grow businesses with local ownership, expertise and commitment.”

On Monday Hiroshi Sasaoka, Sharp’s chief executive officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa, 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.”

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