Taiwan lifts jobs gloom in the Glen

THE GLOOM on the jobs front lifted a little yesterday after a Taiwanese electronics company announced plans to set up in Scotland creating up to 700 jobs.

But the good news was tempered by a fresh round of cutbacks in the oil industry with Shell announcing 750 more job losses than expected and Texaco axing 1,000 jobs in exploration and production.

Universal Scientific Industrial Company of Taiwan is to build a pounds 15m plant at Irvine in Ayrshire - Silicon Glen - to produce components for the computer, telecoms and automotive industry.

The announcement was seen an important boost for the Government's drive to attract more inward investors following high-profile factory closures by Siemens and Fujitsu in the North East.

Barbara Roche, the DTI minister responsible for inward investment, said: "This investment represents an important vote of confidence in the UK electronics industry."

The Taiwanese investment was secured with support from the Invest in Britain Bureau, Locate in Scotland and local enterprise agencies who fought off strong European competition.

There are now nine Taiwanese electronics companies in Scotland who will employ more than 4,000 by the turn of the century.

Shell is cutting a total of 3,000 jobs in its European oil products businesses. This is equivalent to 20 per cent of the workforce, not the 15 per cent reduction initially announced.

A spokesman said that the job losses would be achieved by a combination of redeployment, natural wastage and redundancies.

Texaco blamed its 1,000 job losses - 12 per cent of its exploration and production workforce - on weak oil prices and said the move would save it $200m a year.

Meanwhile, a pounds 10m bid for Crabtree, specialist maker of machinery for colour printing drink and food cans, has saved 380 jobs at the group's Gateshead headquarters which faced an uncertain future.

The board is recommending a rescue bid worth 50p a share from LTG Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of LTG Holding, based in Stuttgart. LTG Technologies, which secured an AIM listing six weeks ago, has been talking to Crabtree since August and has already underwritten an overdraft for the company.

Crabtree's business has been hard hit by the global downturn in demand for capital equipment.