String of closures leads to loss of 3,000 jobs

BRITAIN'S RISING jobless total was placed under further pressure yesterday with a string of factory and office closures that will lead to 3,000 redundancies.

Kvaerner, the Norwegian construction group, led the way, with reports that it is planning to restructure its UK operations with the possible loss of 2,000 jobs at its shipyards in Scotland. The company has called a news conference on Tuesday to unveil a new strategy and structure, but Kvaerner refused to say whether this includes job cuts.

Elsewhere there was a new setback for Britain's mining industry when RJB Mining announced plans to close its colliery in Calverton, Notts, with the loss of 300 jobs. RJB said the higher costs associated with accessing new coal seams were responsible for the decision, with "ongoing operations no longer viable". Production will cease next week, with only about 40 men kept on to secure underground areas and recover equipment. The miners will receive three months' redundancy money plus payments based on length of service.

Calverton was closed by British Coal in 1993 and re-opened by RJB the year after. The company said it had considered a substantial investment in accessing a deeper seam with 20 million tonnes of recoverable coal, but the reserves have a higher sulphur content for which there is no market.

Arjo Wiggins Appleton, the paper group, is closing its Cardiff plant with the loss of 460 jobs. Arjo is restructuring its carbonless and thermal papers operations and terminating thermal production in Europe. With the closure of the Cardiff carbonless plant, the manufacture of these products will be concentrated at Fort William in Scotland and Dartford, Kent, as well as at two plants in Belgium. A plant in France is also closing down.

At Sainsbury's, the supermarket group described as "speculation" reports that it plans to close its Savacentre head office with the loss of 300 jobs.

The company has been reviewing the Savacentre business and said it would inform staff at the office in Wokingham, Berkshire, of the outcome on Monday.