The future of LucasVarity’s UK wiring systems business has been thrown into doubt following the loss of 226 jobs at Lucas SEI Wiring Systems near Swansea.
Unions fear the company could move the whole wiring business, which has over 2000 employees, to Eastern Europe.
The Welsh plant makes electrical wiring harnesses for the automotive market and is part of Lucas SEI, a joint venture formed in 1990 between the former Lucas Industries (now LucasVarity) and Sumitomo Electric Industries of Japan.
Management blamed the Welsh job losses on a cut in orders from Rover, one of its major customers. But unions said the cuts are a continuation of a strategy begun by the company two years ago to move production to its lower cost factory in Poland.
The Polish plant makes less complex harnesses than the UK but, said a T&G representative: ‘Ultimately, design and engineering of wiring systems could go to Poland too.’
Unions claim the company has been winning orders with Rover and Honda by quoting Polish labour rates. These are said to be more than 50% below UK wages.
LucasVarity, which hopes to gain a US stock market listing, reported £165m half year profits, cut by £11m due to stoppages at GM.