OVER 130 workers clocked out of Wrexham’s Tetra Pak factory for the final time yesterday.
The carton plant on the town’s industrial estate ceased production after almost 32 years, leaving most of its workforce redundant.
Many of the 136 leaving now face an uncertain future as their union chief estimates that only about a quarter of them have managed to find themselves new jobs.
The company says production at the factory has ended because cartons it produced for the Russian and Middle Eastern markets are now being supplied by Tetra Pak factories in the two regions and the UK and Irish markets are not large enough to sustain it.
A new warehouse facility is due to open at Wrexham which will employ 21 of those axed from jobs on the production side.
The final shutdown was originally planned for next Thursday.
But company spokesman Rupert Maitland-Titterton said as arrangements for ending production had gone so well, bosses decided to move the date forward by a week.
He said: “This is a very sad day and the whole redundancy process has been very difficult because generations of the same families have worked here.
“We have done a lot of careers work with those affected but unfortunately many of them have still not got jobs to go to.”
Mike Davies, chairman of the Unite union branch at the factory, said: “This has been a horrible month and very stressful for some of my members. But we were busy right up until Tuesday and were still breaking production records with the machines.
“I think only about 25 per cent of those affected have jobs to go to.”
One of those leaving on Thursday was 50-year-old print quality inspector Andrew Thomas, of St Martin’s near Oswestry, who had worked at the factory for 30 years.
He said: “I’ve put out a lot of CVs but haven’t got another job yet. I’m gutted about this because we seemed to being doing well here.
“I think cheap labour abroad has done for us.”
Ken Bailey, 52, of Wrexham had been at Tetra Pak for 31 years, ending as a printer.
He said: I’m very sad to be leaving because this has been a great company to work for.”
Kevin Hughes, 54, of Wrexham, who started work at the factory on the day it opened in June 1979, said: “It’s been very emotional saying goodbye to so many old friends. Luckily, just before the redundancy announcement the company paid for me to get a forklift truck driving qualification and I will now be setting up my own training business.”