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05 June 2000

Factory closures hit heartlands
Strong evidence of a north-south divide in the labour market since Tony Blair became prime minister is revealed in a survey of manufacturing job losses, published in the latest issue of Labour Research magazine.

Labour Research examined 578 redundancy announcements made by manufacturing industry in the three years since the general election of May 1997. Even before the latest announcements from Ford (1,900 job losses) and Rover (1,000), the total number of losses totalled over 170,000.

The jobs were lost from a wide range of manufacturers and include "new" industries, such as electronics and biotech companies, as well as "old" industries like steel and textiles.

Around half of the job losses (86,607) could be allocated to a specific UK region, of which 80% fell in regions above the recognised north-south dividing line of the Severn to the Wash.

Scotland was the hardest hit region, having suffered 18,275 job losses. The three companies in Scotland with the highest numbers of job losses were oil fabrication group Barmac, which lost 3,300 jobs, Viasystems, which closed a number of electronics factories resulting in 1,000 redundancies, and a Continental tyre factory, which closed losing 774 jobs.

The next most troubled region was the West Midlands, of Rover fame, which had lost at least 15,624 jobs since May 1997. The car industry dominated the job losses in the region with Rover losing 2,500 in two lots. The other major loss was of 1,000 jobs at Royal Doulton in the Potteries.

Redundancy figures in the South East region were still very significant, however, at 11,158. The main trouble spots were Ford's Dagenham plant, which lost 2,000 jobs, and two British Nuclear Fuel sites in Berkshire which together lost 1,400.

Losses in the rest of the regions were as follows: North East - 8,010; North West - 7,772; East Midlands - 6,509; Yorkshire & Humber - 5,835; Wales - 4,432; South West - 3,982; Northern Ireland - 2,293; East Anglia: 2,271

Notes to editors

The June 2000 issue of Labour Research includes details of the job loss announcements which were traced through a trawl of press coverage and internet-based information.
Labour Research is published by the Labour Research Department, an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 88 years ago. More than 2,000 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions representing 99% of total TUC membership, are affiliated.
For further information contact Neal Moister on 020 7902 9812.

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