Posted: Thu 16th Jan 2020

Minister urged to help safeguard over 160 jobs under threat at Deeside packaging firm Mondi

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jan 16th, 2020

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood (pictured left) has called on the Welsh Government to help a Deeside packaging firm which last week announced plans to close.

Mondi, which makes flexible plastics packaging, revealed plans to close it’s operations at Deeside Industrial Park, putting 167 jobs at risk, a further 41 jobs at the firms site in Nelson, Lancashire, will be affected, due to a “change in demand for these niche.”

During Wednesday’s Topical Questions in the Welsh Parliament, Mark Isherwood urged the Economy Minister, Ken Skates AM (pictured right) to take action to help prevent the company from closing. He said: “As you’ll be aware, the Mondi Group creates paper and plastic packaging products, and its plants at the Deeside industrial park, where 167 jobs are at risk, and in Nelson, Lancashire, where 41 jobs are affected, create flexible plastics packaging – bags, pouches and laminates – for the consumer industry.

But the company said that a change in demand for these niche products has led to the potential closures. However, in its statement last Friday, it said it will start a 45-day consultation process, which could lead to the closure of the practices.”

The North Wales AM added: “What is your understanding of the position regarding the change in demand for niche products? What support, if any, working with the other agencies and the UK Government that you described, could be given, either to help stimulate demand for those niche products or vary the niche products, perhaps, into new product lines to ensure that they meet the demand that is out there?”

In response, Economy Minister, Ken Skates said: “My understanding is also that the products that come from the Deeside plant are very much niche products and that demand for them has, in recent times, subsided.

As a consequence, the company needs to make a decision over whether to close the site, or whether, potentially, with assistance from the Welsh Government, perhaps the UK Government and the local authority, it could maintain its presence in North Wales by widening and broadening its base of products.

That would require, of course, further research and development, and that’s precisely why we’ve encouraged businesses to take full advantage of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) not far from that particular business. (In Broughton)

We would encourage the company, if it does decide to retain its presence, which we very much hope it will, to utilise the services and the collaboration within the AMRC.”

Mr Skates, who is also Minister for North Wales added: “In terms of the support that we stand ready to offer the workers, I’ve already outlined the rapid response service that now exists in North Wales and that stands ready to assist employees.

In addition, we will look very closely at the pipeline of potential investments and growth that we already have for the region, and ensure that every effort is made to secure investment that could lead to new job opportunities being developed in Deeside and beyond.”

Mondi launched a 45-day consultation period last week over the complete closure of the Deeside plant, a company spokesperson said at the time: “Mondi has announced a minimum 45-day consultation with employee representatives concerning a proposed plan to close all manufacturing operations at its Deeside and Nelson sites in the UK by the second half of 2020.

Mondi has implemented various strategic initiatives over the past two years to streamline operations and enhance the cost-competitiveness of both sites, however due to the change in demand for the niche products produced at these sites, Mondi sees no alternative than to start a consultation process on the potential closure.

The proposal under consideration will impact around 200 employees.

Mondi understands this is a particularly challenging time for employees and their families and is committed to treating people fairly throughout the process.

Employees will be given support during the consultation and implementation of the ultimately agreed proposal, and Mondi will follow all legal procedures in accordance with UK labour law.”

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami, has raised concerns over the proposed job losses, he said: “I have spoken to Mondi and raised my concerns. I understand 160 jobs are at risk in Deeside.

“I will be raising this issue when I meet with the Welsh Government’s Economy Minister, Ken Skates, when I meet him later this month.

In the meantime I call on Mondi to avoid taking decisions which will affect their committed and hard-working employees.

My office will of course be ready to assist anyone who is affected by this and I will continue to stand up for jobs in our area.”

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