Pilkington: St Helens included in global cuts

The global restructuring of the NSG group is also affecting UK glassmaker Pilkington, who is making cuts at its St Helens operations and will involve a reduction of its global workforce by 5,800 peopl…

The global restructuring of the NSG group is also affecting UK glassmaker Pilkington, who is making cuts at its St Helens operations and will involve a reduction of its global workforce by 5,800 people – about 15% – by March 2010. Half of those cuts have already taken place, mainly in China and the Philippines. About half of Pilkington“s 4,000-strong UK workforce is employed at St Helens. The changes, designed to re-establish profit growth, include the closure of its Automotive Value Added operation, in St Helens, and, therefore, the loss of 11 jobs, also due to the drop in demand and a reduction in future orders. This had caused the company to operate on a short-time working basis in recent months, but, due to the severe downturn in new car sales, the group“s automotive division had been hit badly, resulting in very high levels of over-capacity across the group. Measures had already been taken at other automotive plants, which include closures of divisions in Austria, Finland and Germany. The firm announced on 7 April 2009 that, even if its automotive and speciality glass divisions were in line with trading forecasts announced in February, its building products markets, particularly in Europe, had deteriorated even more. Most of Pilkington“s UK operations regard building products, including a float line at Greengate, in St Helens, which remains on extended shutdown. The company announced that it will extend its restructuring programme in May 2009 in a move costing another GBP 20 million. However, the economic downturn has obliged the company to take out capacity equivalent to two of its 16 float lines in Europe. In a statement, NSG said: The group“s major building products“ markets remain depressed and have continued to decline in the last three months. Current market demand levels in building products“ markets are 25% below last year in most markets. Commodity glass prices in Europe continued to decrease in February and March and are now 40% below the levels of the same period in 2008. Recovery is not expected at least until the second half of 2010, and major building products“ markets remain depressed.