600 jobs at risk in PM's constituency

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The Independent Online
AROUND 600 electronics workers in Prime Minister Tony Blair's constituency in the North East will learn today whether they are to be the latest casualties of the global economic slowdown.

Fears were growing last night that the Fujitsu microchip plant in the heart of Mr Blair's Sedgefield constituency in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is to close. Management were expected to make an announcement to staff today regarding the plant's future.

Any closure would come less than a month after the shock announcement that the Siemens microchip factory on North Tyneside was to close with the loss of over 1,000 jobs.

The Fujitsu factory, opened by the Queen seven years ago, brought much needed jobs to the unemployment blackspot of South West Durham. But the collapse of the Far East economies has caused a massive slump in the World microchip market.

In an effort to stave off the current financial gloom in the market the Fujitsu plant has just undergone a re-fit so it can diversify its production.

Last month the Grove Europe crane factory in Sunderland announced that it was to close before the end of the year with the loss of over 650 jobs. A spokesman for the DTI said it would be "inappropriate" for the Government to comment ahead of the company's own announcement.

Shadow Trade Secretary John Redwood said: "It shows that when any global company is working out what to do about the world crisis, Britain is now the most likely place for complete closure and mass redundancies, thanks to the damaging economic policies the British Government is following.

"Now this is happening in Mr Blair's backyard, maybe he will wake up to the danger."