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Mitsubishi to shut Scottish plant

Monday 06 April 1998 23:02 BST

AROUND 500 jobs are to be axed at a television factory because of a sharp drop in the price of sets in recent years.

Mitsubishi said it was ending production at Haddington, East Lothian, where the plant had not been able to operate profitably and there was "no realistic prospect of improvement" in the market.

Instead, the company will focus on strengthening its video recorder production, which is carried out at its plant in Livingston, also in Scotland.

Eric Murray, director of Mitsubishi Electric UK, said: "This is not a decision we have been able to take easily. We have been a major source of employment in the area for 20 years and we take our social responsibilities very seriously indeed. We will be doing everything we can to help our staff."

Mitsubishi took over the Haddington plant in 1979 when it saved the site from closure by its previous owners.

The company is a big employer in Scotland, with two plants in Livingston - one manufacturing VCRs and another producing air conditioners.

The company is also offering personal counselling to staff to help cope with the changes and will establish a jobseeker bureau and training packages to help them find alternative employment.

Today's announcement will also mean the loss of around 30 sales and administration jobs at Mitsubishi's site in Hatfield, which employs 395 people.

Brian Wilson, the Scottish industry minister, said inward investment and enterprise experts would act to lessen the impact on the local community.

He said: "I regret the loss of jobs at the Haddington plant. I understand that the company's decision was driven by market forces and in no way reflects on the quality or productivity of the workforce."

But Alister Jack, the Scottish Tory spokesman on economic affairs, moved to capitalise on the fact that the announcement came on the day the Government launched its strategy to tackle youth unemployment.

He said: "Labour was given a golden economic legacy by the previous Tory government. It is now their job to ensure they build upon that success. There is little point of introducing a New Deal programme if they cannot hold on to existing jobs."

Dr Des Bonnar, chief executive of Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise later said it was a serious blow to the area. "This news is a major blow to the people and families involved. Mitsubishi is one of the largest employers in East Lothian and has a significant role in supporting the local economy."

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