DuPont to sack 720 in Britain

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DUPONT is shedding 720 UK jobs in a plan to move nylon production from Britain to France and form a joint venture operation with Rhone-Poulenc.

The two companies are investing Fr600m ( pounds 73.8m) in an existing Rhone site at Chalampe, a move that will result in total DuPont job losses across Europe of 1,200 over three years. The shutdown of DuPont's Wilton acid plant at Teesside will mean 520 job cuts, and a further 200 redundancies will come from sites at Gloucester and Doncaster. Other jobs will go in Germany and the Netherlands.

DuPont bought the struggling nylon business from ICI in 1993, but said yesterday market conditions had deteriorated further. On top of this, DuPont was facing a huge investment to meet environmental standards. The Wilton polymer plant is not affected.

The move was condemned by the Labour Party's industry spokesman, Derek Fatchett. He recalled the row last year when the Government praised Hoover's move of production from France to Glasgow, which ministers said was due to lower wage costs and Britain's opt-out from the Social Chapter.

He said it exposed government deceit. 'By opting out, the Government does not guarantee jobs or inward investment. It only ensures that British workers are the second-class citizens of Europe.'

DuPont had stated it wanted to become the world's leading supplier of nylon and last year began a big restructuring of its European operations. Its worldwide business has revenues of nearly dollars 4bn, with a workforce of 19,000. In Europe, revenues are approaching pounds 1bn with about 5,000 employees.