Wiltshire

Melksham's Cooper Tire jobs threat: Taskforce set up

Cooper Tires, Melksham
Image caption The factory employs 732 workers in Melksham

A taskforce has been set up to help about 300 tyre workers at risk of losing their jobs.

Cooper Tire and Rubber Company in Melksham, Wiltshire, plans to cut the jobs - from a 732-strong workforce - over the next 10 months.

The MP for Chippenham, Michelle Donelan, has been visiting Melksham to help those under threat of redundancy.

She said cheap tyre imports from China were not to blame - but this is disputed by union leaders at the plant.

'So cheap'

Unite union convener Rob Atkins said there had been "a lot of confusion" and "quite a bit of bitterness and anger as well".

"Unite have been campaigning for the government to put tariffs on the Chinese tyres that are coming in - partly that they're not safe and partly they're so cheap," he said.

Ms Donelan said the company wanted to cut production costs.

"Countries like Serbia have a lot lower labour cost, something that we're not going to do over here," the Conservative politician said.

Car tyre manufacture at the Melksham site dates back to the 1890s, but the US owners say the town centre plant is now too old and too small to compete in the global marketplace.

Last month Michelin warned that jobs could be lost at its Dundee plant in the face of "extremely challenging trading conditions".

It blamed an influx of cheap tyres from Asia and falling demand for smaller premium tyres.

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