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Job cuts sweep Britain


There is no corner of Britain unaffected by the banking disintegration, collapse of the housing market, and recession. Some recent examples include the Bombardier aerospace site in Belfast (350 jobs lost), IT and communications in Scotland (500 jobs at Siemens, 150 agency workers sacked at HP), Barclays (400 IT staff in London), and Indesit washing machines in North Wales (300 jobs). L’Oreal is to move back to France from Britain.

Air Products Wrexham – the only manufacturer of large air-separation units in the country – is to cease production here; instead, units will be made in China, leaving no British supply chain manufacturer in the run-up to clean coal technologies.

Pay freezes, short-time working and lay-offs, closure of final salary schemes, contracting out, redundancies and site closures are reported up and down the country, even where companies are in profit, as at Barclays, Coca Cola, Unilever, Cadbury, Imperial Tobacco and Hewlett Packard (imposing a 5 per cent pay cut across the board, despite doubling its profits).

Opportunistic attacks on terms and conditions using recession as a pretext is blatant war on workers. Executives who appear to take a cut in basic pay themselves are in practice often rewarded with bonuses for sacking staff. In construction, contractors invoke EU law in order to supplant British workers with cheaper foreign labour.

Among the worst affected sectors are chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, print and papermaking, IT (on a massive scale), and metals, with Corus axeing 2500 jobs in Britain. In just one example, Pfizer is to cease manufacturing at its site at Sandwich, Kent, with the loss of 900 jobs. At least 1,700 jobs are to go across Glaxo, AstraZeneca and Unilever. Invista Textiles at the former ICI Wilton site will close with loss of up to 5,000 jobs.