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RFMD, in Newton Aycliffe, reveals plans to close plant and transfer work to America
HUNDREDS of North-East jobs are at risk after an electronics firm announced plans to close a factory.
RF Micro Devices (RFMD), in Newton Aycliffe, today revealed it was pulling out of the region and moving production to America.
The company, which makes semi-conductors for mobile phones, employs about 200 workers at its plant, on Heighington Lane Business Park.
Staff tonight found out about the plans in a letter from the company.
It said it was transferring work to North Carolina, and would phase down production at Newton Aycliffe, where it makes cellular switches, over the next 12 months to save £13m a year.
One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “People are very upset, we thought something might be happening but it has still come as a shock.
“We are now in the 90-day consultation period with the company, but we expect to lose our jobs by the end of the year.”
RFMD, which is based in Greensborough, North Carolina, said it would be forced to close its former Filtronics factory, which stands close to the site of the proposed new Hitachi train building plant, if it failed to find a buyer.
The announcement came just hours before Chancellor George Osborne's Budget, and Phil Wilson, MP for Newton Aycliffe, called on the Government to do more to help North-East industry.
He said: “I am very disappointed, the potential loss of these jobs would be a major blow to Aycliffe.
“I have already contacted Business Durham, Durham County Council and other organisations to ensure we do all that we can to help RFMD find a buyer for the site.
“Coming as it did on the eve of the Budget, it is a reminder to the Chancellor that we need a clear strategy for growth to support areas like the North-East.”
RFMD works on power amplifiers and makes software for satellite set-top boxes and satellite radios, and products for wireless networks.
It bought Filtronics' compound semiconductor division for £12.5m in 2008, in a deal that also secured the Newton Aycliffe factory.
The company has plants across the world, with factories in America, France, Germany and China, and has a sales office in Reading, although the future of that site is not known.
Bob Bruggeworth, RFMD president and chief executive, said the company was disappointed to leaving Newton Aycliffe, but said the move would allow the company to continue its expansion.
He said: “We are enjoying increasing demand for our products by delivering the industry’s highest performance and most innovative products and technologies, including power amplifiers, switches and antenna tuners.
“The combination of our industry-leading manufacturing capabilities and our external partnerships support our longstanding commitment to satisfy the full breadth of our customers’ performance, size, and cost requirements.
“They give us unlimited growth potential and we expect these structural changes to have a lasting positive effect on the company’s cost structure, resulting in meaningful expansion.”
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