Sun goes down on Linlithgow jobs

SUN Microsystems has announced plans to axe up to 136 jobs at its Springfield plant in Linlithgow next year.

The company, which is the largest employer in the Linlithgow area with around 800 employees, announced yesterday (Thursday) it is to close its manufacturing department by June 2009. As the Gazette went to press, a Sun spokeswoman confirmed it was centralising manufacturing in Oregon, USA.

She added: "As a result of this decision, Sun will close its manufacturing function of its Linlithgow site by the end of its fiscal year, which ends June 2009. The manufacturing arm of Linlithgow accounts for approximately 15 to 17 per cent (between 120 and 136) of Sun's Scottish workforce.''

Other key departments at Sun will not be directly affected by the announcement.

The spokeswoman added: "This is a difficult process for the Sun staff involved and we will be working closely with the impacted individuals over the coming months to ensure support is available and any alternative opportunities are made known to all affected employees."

A former employee who was offered a redundancy package last month told the Gazette: "There is never a good time to be told you are out of a job but having spoken to colleagues who still work there, I believe the company is offering an extra payment to those who work up until the closure."

West Lothian Council is seeking urgent talks over the future of the Sun Microsystems plant.

"This is obviously very disappointing news for Linlithgow and West Lothian," said Executive councillor for development and transport Martyn Day. "It is a particular setback at this time of year.

"I understand some other core functions of Sun's business at Linlithgow will not be directly affected by the decision to stop manufacturing by the end of June next year."

Councillor Day, who chairs the Linlithgow Local Area Committee, added: ''We will be seeking urgent discussions to find out more details about today's announcement and the company's future plans for West Lothian. 'Sun has a highly skilled and loyal workforce and we will be working with our partners to try to assist employees find new jobs and offer financial advice."

Provost Tom Kerr said: ''Obviously I am very disappointed and am saddened at the loss of jobs locally. However, I think it is important that Sun will remain in Linlithgow as an operating company. I hope that when the economic situation improves the company will start recruiting again.