Bleak outlook as firms shed 1,000 more jobs

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The Independent Online
THE HAEMORRHAGE of job losses continued yesterday with more than 1,000 redundancies at the submarine builders VSEL, Cadbury, the Construction Industry Training Board, and 3i, the capital development group.

Union leaders said the total of redundancies was more than 8,000 this week.

Bill Jordan, president of the engineering union, AEEU, said: 'Black September has turned into bleak October.'

VSEL said yesterday's 390 redundancies were the result of a declining workload and were part of a long-running rationalisation programme at the company's yard at Barrow-in-Furness. 'In common with almost every other defence manufacturer in Britain and throughout the western world we have seen a dramatic decline in the demand for our products and the recession is hampering our efforts to break into new commercial markets.'

VSEL has cut its workforce to 8,600 from 14,500 two years ago. The latest job losses are to be split between manual and office staff.

Frank Ward, AEEU district secretary, said the redundant workers would have little chance of finding another job in Barrow.

'They can't move away as it is impossible to sell their houses.'

Cadbury said it was making 450 sales and office staff redundant at its headquarters in Bournville, Birmingham, and at sites near Bristol, Wrexham and Hereford.

David Brooks, managing director, said the reductions were necessary to keep the company competitive and to secure the jobs of the 6,000 remaining staff.

Nearly 100 jobs are to go at 3i, the development capital group owned by four of the UK's high street banks. The group, which provides finance for buy-outs and start-up projects, is to close its offices in Brighton, Guildford, Milton Keynes, Sheffield and Hull.

Ewen Macpherson, 3i's chief executive, told staff in an internal memorandum: 'We are all aware that the late 1980s boom has been blown away by recession and everyone has to come to terms with a climate of lower inflation and lower economic growth.'

The group was due to float on the Stock Exchange earlier this year, but the flotation was postponed because of the election and Mr Macpherson said he was in no position to say when conditions would be right.

The job losses, including 126 workers at the Construction Industry Training Board, follow a long list of redundancies this week at IBM, the Ministry of Defence, Sears, Northern Telecom and Pirelli.

Bill Morris, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said manufacturing industry was under threat with areas of the country facing industrial dereliction. 'Very soon it will be easier to announce the people left in work,' he added.