SOUTH Derbyshire’s MP has said she is ‘saddened’ but ‘not surprised’ after a Swadlincote factory announced it will move operations to Northern Ireland.
Heather Wheeler spoke out after Sandvik Construction revealed it would cut 360 jobs from its Hearthcote Road operation by 2015.
The recession-hit firm will move 160 jobs to its Ballygawley site after revealing both sites had been running at just 50 per cent capacity.
Mrs Wheeler said: “I was saddened to hear Sandvik’s plans to move the production processes from our area and the unfortunate job losses that will follow.
“With production running at only 50 per cent at both factories, consolidating processes on one site was inevitable.
“Unemployment in Northern Ireland is at a massive 7.4 per cent with County Tyrone, where the other facility is based having historically bad unemployment.
“With one of its towns previously having the highest rate of unemployment in the industrialised world, it was not surprising that they opted to move there.”
Sandvik has pledged to make support packages available and has also contacted neighbouring engineering firms in a bid to find work for those affected.
Mrs Wheeler said: “This is a 12-month process and I pledge to do all that I can to help any Sandvik employees who are made redundant return to work.”
The MP added that she was delighted the firm would retain 80 workers at its Swadlincote base for its research and development team.
Lahky Mahal, the Unite official which represents about 100 workers, criticised the firm for not including the union in talks before the announcement.
He said: “We need to understand why they have come to this decision and why we were not consulted.
“It is not one they would have made overnight.”
A spokesman from Sandvik said representatives had been spoken to after the announcement and formal meeting with the union is due to be held on Monday.
He said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure our employees are relocated.”
After the announcement was made, Sandvik’s managing director Terry Allison said global demand had not recovered as well as had been hoped since the economic downturn in 2008.