Lowestoft job cuts under fire from MP

Plans to axe 40 jobs at a Lowestoft factory have been attacked as part of plans for its final closure. Waveney MP Bob Blizzard last night accused windows- and-doors firm Jeld-Wen of running down its base in Waveney Drive with a view to an eventual closure.

Plans to axe 40 jobs at a Lowestoft factory have been attacked as part of plans for its final closure.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard last night accused windows- and-doors firm Jeld-Wen of running down its base in Waveney Drive with a view to an eventual closure - and workers also spoke of their long-term fears.

A statement from Jeld-Wen's head office in Doncaster admitted it was to start talks with union representatives about 40 potential jobs losses through redundancy as a result of a loss of business.

A spokesman for the company, which employs 132 people at the factory, said: “The company plans to offer voluntary redundancies and regretted that job losses appeared inevitable due to lost sales volumes for 2007.”

Consultations with unions are set to start on Monday, but the workforce's morale has hit a new low as fears of closure have taken hold in the build-up to Christmas.

It is the latest blow to workers following the announcement of 160 job losses in August 2005.

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Mr Blizzard said: “It's another unfortunate step in the run-down of this facility. I believe that the eventual plan of Jeld-Wen management is to close it down.

“The last time they had redundancies, I went down to the facility and held talks with the management. I brought in an experienced team from Business Link Suffolk to support them but the management were not interested. I don't think they are particularly interested in Lowestoft.

“That's why I say that this is another step in the run-down of the site and that is the management's plan, as I have tried to work with this company to secure the site, and even went up to Doncaster to speak to them, to no avail,” he said.

A worker at the Lowestoft site said that a meeting was held with senior management on Tuesday, where staff were informed of the news.

“They have indicated that by January there will be 40 redundancies and after that they will be reviewing the situation and the viability of the site with just 90 people left,” the worker said.

With the workforce being cut by more than half last year, as the door factory was closed, the site has continued as one sole operation known as the Main Mill.

Many workers have been at the site for more than 20 years and their future hangs in the balance. “This will affect a lot of people in the town and this is another blow so close to Christmas,” the worker added. “We know it's going to shut; I know how big this site is and with just 90 people it's not going to be viable.”

Jeld-Wen bought the company, which was once known as Boulton and Paul and boasted a workforce of 500 in its heyday, from the Rugby Group in 1999 and has since been slimming down the business.