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Pilkington glass factory in St Helens cuts 140 jobs

Pilkington factory sign
Image caption The GMB Union said the news was a 'devastating blow'

Pilkington Glass is to halt glass production at a St Helens factory, with the loss of 140 jobs, it has announced.

The firm, which employs 2,500 staff across the UK, said it decided to end manufacturing at the Cowley Hill site after making "huge losses".

It received £5m from the government, to invest in new production techniques and the creation of 254 jobs across its St Helens sites, in December 2011.

The GMB union said the news was a "devastating blow" for the area.

Trade union Unite added that it would be "scrutinising the company's proposals".

In February staff at the site threatened to strike over plans to freeze salaries or axe pension increases due to the firm's "financial position".

Redundancy discussions

The firm has produced glass at the factory since 1871.

It will continue to manufacture float glass at its larger production line at Greengate in St Helens, and other activity including laminating and silvering will continue at Cowley Hill.

Pilkington Glass managing director, Matt Buckley, said the decision followed falling demand for architectural glass in the economic downturn.

He said: "This segment of our business is hugely loss-making and we have had to address it in order to protect the rest of our business."

The firm said it was in discussions over compulsory and voluntary redundancies with employees and their representatives.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the union will meet the company and also meet "the workforce to listen to their views on this terrible announcement".

"These are skilled manufacturing jobs and we will be doing as much as possible to mitigate the impact on the workforce."

Charlie Leonard, of the GMB union, added: "The loss of highly skilled, well-paid jobs is yet another major blow to the core of UK manufacturing."

Pilkington closed its factory in Basildon, Essex, in 2011 with the loss of 30 jobs.

It is owned by Japan-based firm NSG, which cut 3,500 jobs globally in February 2012

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