'No risks' for sister site of shut factory
5:30am Monday 10th March 2014 in By Beren Cross, @BerenCross
FACTORY workers’ jobs at AFL Telecommunications in Newcombe Drive are safe despite 25 redundancies at a sister factory on the same trading estate, according to HR manager Margaret Harman.
The factory leased by AFL in Wyndham Road, which was used under a separate division of the telecoms giant, was closed on Friday.
The site, which manufactured fibre optic cable connections, was launched especially for one customer in 2010, who has forced the factory’s operations to move to its own premises in the Czech Republic.
Without this customer’s business there would be no need for the division, hence AFL’s decision to agree to moving operations to a more cost-effective base in eastern Europe.
Staff were made aware of the decision on February 3 and given the option to relocate, although none of the 25 accepted permanent terms at the new site.
One member of staff will oversee the transition period and move to the European nation on a short-term basis. Mrs Harman said one quarter of those made redundant had already found work elsewhere.
She was keen to stress there would be no effects felt at the Newcombe Drive site, which employs 67 staff.
She said: “It is a complete separate business and is in no way connected with our site in Newcombe Drive.
“That factory existed to serve the needs of one particular customer, who wanted a more competitively priced option based in mainland Europe.
“They are already a big customer with AFL across the world. In order to keep this business we had to move.”
Margaret said AFL is working with the staff it laid off to find other vacancies for them, although there are currently none within the business in Swindon.
Vacancies at its operation in Haverhill, Suffolk, were offered, but none of the staff were prepared to relocate.
Of those laid off, some were temporary workers, who must now find hours elsewhere in Swindon. Around half of those made redundant had worked at the factory since it opened in November 2010.
Mrs Harman said: “It was very difficult. There was a mixture of them understanding this was a corporate decision made far away from Swindon, but they were all sad to lose their jobs.”
The factory is being leased by AFL, which has 18 months remaining. Its fate is not yet known, though it could be used as a storage space for the sister factory. AFL may also attempt to negotiate for an early termination of the lease.