RJB cuts 400 jobs in South Yorkshire

More than 800 jobs were lost yesterday in the Yorkshire mining and South Wales refinery industries, but Abbey National countered the bad news with an announcement that it was creating 500 jobs.

RJB Mining announced that 400 jobs would be lost at Maltby Colliery in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, blaming the strong pound and uncertainty over contracts to supply power companies with coal. The jobs represent more than two-thirds of the pit's workforce, which will be reduced to 140.

A spokesman for RJB said: "Because of the uncertainty over contracts it's a prudent step to stop work on developing new reserves we may not need. When the contracts, which run from March, have been agreed we will be in a position to decide if and when further action is needed to bring output in line with sales."

A further 400 workers will lose their jobs at a lubricants plant in Llandarcy, near Swansea, owned jointly by BP and Mobil. The plant is set to close in 1999, with workers forced to leave by mid-1998.

The closure follows separate cutbacks in the South Wales oil industry at a refining plant in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire. More than 270 staff and 130 contractors will lose their jobs at Llandarcy, with knock-on effects on Swansea dockers, who handle products for the plant.

David Morris, Labour Euro MP for South Wales West, said the efforts of both unions and management had failed to counter market forces. "We did everything we could, but today's announcement comes as a grave blow to an area in which high-paid, high-skills jobs are scarce."

However, Merseyside is set to benefit from the creation of 500 jobs by Abbey National. The bank is setting up a multi-million pound centre for selling home insurance over the telephone. The centre opened yesterday at a refurbished dock building in Liverpool.

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