Steelcase workers search for new jobs

TALKS are being held to try and find jobs for staff at the UK headquarters of the Steelcase office furniture company at Margate.

The office is to close in October with the loss of a hundred jobs--a bitter blow in what is regarded as an area of high social deprivation.

Officers from Thanet council’s economic development unit are working with the company to discuss what can be done to help their employees.

Council leader Sandy Ezekiel, said: "This is devastating news and we are doing all we can to help those who will be losing their jobs.

"An action plan is being produced to ensure that other companies and agencies are aware of the skills of the Steelcase workforce, so that they can be matched to other jobs, where possible."

Steelcase managing director Jim Mitchell said “We are aware of the impact this decision will have on our UK employees and will provide career advice and support to assist them in finding alternative employment.”

Representatives from Right Coutts, a job search specialist company, will meet workers individually to help them plan their future.

Mr Mitchell said: “We will notify local Job Centres, our suppliers and other manufacturing companies to ask if they are in a position to recruit. "Steelcase has good and close relationships with trades union representatives who have already been informed of our decision. We will ensure all employees are effectively represented.

"We will also work with local authorities and interested parties to review possible ideas for the future of the site.”

Steelcase has supplied half its UK demand from the Margate plant but all sales will now be fulfilled from plants making the same products throughout Europe and beyond.

Mr Mitchell said: “In order to balance long-term demand and capacity, Steelcase continuously assesses its European industrial base. As a consequence we have reorganised some production lines and closed facilities in other locations.”

The company, based at Grand Rapids, Michigan, and its subsidiaries have dealers in more than 900 locations, factories in more than 50 countries, and about 16,000 employees.

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