Pilkington to cut 6,000 jobs

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The Independent Online
Pilkington, the world's largest glass manufacturer, is to shed up to 6,000 jobs internationally - more than a tenth of its workforce - as part of a dramatic cost-cutting programme in the face of a slump in demand from the building and car industries, writes Heather Connon.

The job cuts will mean that the group has shed more than 12,000 staff since the recession began. At the end of March, it had 43,700 employees, of whom 9,000 were in Britain, down from 58,400 - 13,200 in Britain - three years previously. Some of these will have been transferred with disposals.

Britain is likely to remain relatively unscathed in the current round of job cuts. A restructuring programme, including the closure of one float line and the transfer of the European flat glass head office from St Helens to Brussels, has already reduced the workforce.

The focus of the cuts is likely to be the US, where the signs of recovery are fading, and Germany, where the group is keen to save about 10 per cent of its manpower costs. Pilkington refused to comment on the job cuts, but analysts say they have been warned that 4,000 jobs are likely to go in the next 18 months, and the total could rise to 6,000 within two years.

The slump in new car sales, together with the construction recession in Britain, the US and - recently - much of Europe, has meant that glass prices have slumped in recent years as manufacturers compete for a shrinking market. In Britain alone, prices have fallen almost 30 per cent.