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Calsonic, Yausa shed jobs in Wales

Air-conditioning systems supplier Calsonic Kansei is to move its headquarters from Llanelli, Wales, to Paris in order to be nearer its clients, the company has announced.

The move, which will happen within two years, doesn’t apply to the firm’s manufacturing operations. Employees affected have been offered the opportunity to move to France, says Calsonic’s European president David Pallas.

“This new investment is to support significant new business opportunities in mainland Europe and in particular with Renault. The current employees in the headquarters will be offered transfers to Paris,” he says. “The manufacturing operation on the same site in Llanelli is unaffected by these changes.”

In 2003 90 people working at the Llanelli plant were made redundant.

Meanwhile up to 190 jobs could be shed at Yuasa Batteries’ plant at Ebbw Vale, which supplies industrial batteries. Originally 220 redundancies were planned.

The plant, which opened in 1981, is the second biggest employer in Blaenau Gwent with 530 staff. The news follows Yuasa’s announcement that its automotive battery operation in Birmingham is to close completely, with the loss of 320 jobs.

Since the Ebbw Vale announcement was made at the end of last year, management and unions have been in discussion.

“We were devastated by the news, which came out of the blue. We’re now working with the unions to find the best solutions, and have had constructive talks with Yuasa management,” says local Welsh Assembly member, Peter Law.

Yuasa says it will concentrate on high-value, low-volume products sourced from its Far Eastern plants. It will continue to supply Lucas-branded car batteries (for which it pays a royalty) as well as Crompton and Oldham units.

“It is with deep regret that automotive manufacturing has to end in the UK but Yuasa has 26 plants worldwide and rationalisation is a harsh market reality,” says Yuasa Battery Europe’s commercial and marketing director, Richard Halstead.

The company hopes to create 50 jobs in Wales by consolidating its customer services and research and development operations.

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