1,500 more go at Pilkington

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The Independent Online
PILKINGTON, the troubled glass-maker, plans to sack another 1,500 workers in the coming 12 months in an attempt to restore its fortunes.

The move will take the total number of jobs lost as part of the restructuring package, announced last autumn to 7,500. About 400 jobs will be lost in Australia while the rest will fall in Europe, Paolo Scaroni, Pilkington's chief executive, said yesterday.

He said the move would help reduce costs in the group's float glass manufacturing plants, lifting productivity levels to those of its nearest competitors.

"If you are not competitive in float you die," Mr Scaroni said, pointing out that the planned cuts would lift Pilkington's productivity per worker. "If we can achieve that we will be as good as our competitors. We will be in the pack."

He said that the company had already shed 3,500 of its workforce as part of plans it announced last autumn. The remainder of the jobs will go in the coming year.

The additional cuts raised the amount that Pilkington had to set aside for restructuring from pounds 194m to pounds 225m. The charge, which covers the cost of all the planned job losses, pulled the group into the red last year. It posted a pre-tax loss of pounds 100m in the year to March, compared to a profit of pounds 77m in the previous year.

Pilkington held its full-year dividend at 5p per share. However, the shares slipped 7p to 135.5p.

Mr Scaroni said his plans would increase Pilkington's productivity in float glass manufacturing by 40 per cent, while lifting efficiency in automotive glass by 22 per cent. He said the group had already achieved half of those gains.

Despite the cutbacks, the company is still investing in new plants. It is building new lines in Spain, Belgium, Poland and Egypt.