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Cooper Tire Europe: Firm confirms 300 workers to lose jobs


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The factory employs 732 workers in Melksham

A tyre company has confirmed 300 workers at its Wiltshire factory will lose their jobs.

US firm Cooper Tire and Rubber Company will stop light vehicle tyre production in Melksham, Wiltshire, and transfer it to other “global” centres.

It follows discussions with the union Unite with production expected to be phased out over the next ten months.

General Manager Jaap van Wessum said the firm will “grow our business in a long term sustainable way”.

Chippenham MP, Michelle Donelan, visited Melksham in October to help those under threat of redundancy among the 732-strong workforce.

She said cheap tyre imports from China were not to blame – but this is disputed by union leaders at the plant.

‘Lower labour cost’

Unite union convener Rob Atkins said there had been “a lot of confusion” and “quite a bit of bitterness and anger as well”.

“Unite have been campaigning for the government to put tariffs on the Chinese tyres that are coming in – partly that they’re not safe and partly they’re so cheap,” he said.

Ms Donelan said the company wanted to cut production costs.

“Countries like Serbia have a lot lower labour cost, something that we’re not going to do over here,” the Conservative politician said.

Car tyre manufacture at the Melksham site dates back to the 1890s, but the US owners say the town centre plant is now too old and too small to compete in the global marketplace.

In September, Michelin warned that jobs could be lost at its Dundee plant in the face of “extremely challenging trading conditions”.

It blamed an influx of cheap tyres from Asia and falling demand for smaller premium tyres.



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