Peugeot to close Ryton plant early

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The French car maker Peugeot was accused of "callous cynicism" yesterday after announcing that its Ryton plant in Coventry is to close six months early.

Unions reacted with fury to the announcement that production will cease in January, saying Peugeot had built up hopes among the 2,000-strong workforce that they would have well into next year to find new employment.

Peugeot had planned to keep the remaining shift at Ryton going until July of next year. But yesterday it said the number of employees volunteering to leave early was so great that it was not practicable to keep the plant open for that length of time.

The Transport and General Workers' Union, which has led a campaign urging the public to boycott Peugeot cars, attacked the move.

Dave Osborne, the union's national car industry secretary, said: "Peugeot have confirmed their reputation for callous cynicism with this news. How can they expect customer loyalty when they treat people like this? It is not the sort of pre-Christmas present anybody wants especially as the workforce has been so loyal over many years."

However, Peugeot said that more than 800 employees had already left while a further quarter of those remaining had also now applied for redundancy. Peugeot is offering between one and three years' redundancy pay depending on length of service. A specially created employment centre is also advertising 6,000 job vacancies.