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Bosch workers’ final farewell

Bosch's 489 workers in Miskin will today leave the plant for the last time

Almost 500 workers at the Bosch plant in Miskin near Cardiff will leave the plant for the last time today after a farewell barbecue on site to mark the plant’s closure.

The factory – which manufactured alternators for the car industry – will shut, with work transferring to Hungary where labour costs are cheaper.

Both the Miskin plant manager and the Bosch management board have paid tribute to the 489 Welsh workers, saying they have shown dignity and commitment at a difficult time.

German-owned Bosch came to Wales 20 years ago as part of a wave of inward investors supported by grants from the now defunct Welsh Development Agency. At its height, the Miskin plant employed 1500 people.

The company took the decision to close 18 months ago, at the height of the recession, as sales fell by 65 per cent. Unite – the union which represents many of the workers – had hoped to retain a smaller production capacity on site, ready for an upturn, but was unsuccessful.

Unite’s David Lewis says the union and Bosch worked together to secure the best possible deal for those losing their jobs. Workers have also benefited from the Welsh Government’s ReAct retraining scheme, topped up by the company. Some workers have already found alternative employment – Jason Evans says he’s been lucky, landing a job at Ford in Bridgend.

This week, Gloucester-based Renishaw Ltd – an engineering and technology company – announced it had bought the Bosch site. It said it was attracted by the 200-acre plot in a location with good infrastructure and transport links. The company, which employs 1500 people in Gloucester and another 900 worldwide, says it was also drawn by the availability of a skilled and willing workforce, following recruitment problems in Gloucestershire.

That’s good news for those Bosch workers who today find themselves back on the job market. Renishaw will take over the site in September as part of their expansion plans, but have not yet made any commitment on the number of jobs.

The departure of a blue-chip company like Bosch has amplified calls for the Welsh Government to do more before companies decide to leaveWales. Ex-WDA Economist, Prof. Brian Morgan of UWIC, says product cycles are getting shorter and shorter, but South Wales has had 20 years good employment out of the Bosch deal.

That’ll be of little comfort, however, to those who’ve lost their jobs and to the communities around the plant as they feel the impact of the closure.

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