Published: 10:34, 22 January 2020
| Updated: 11:18, 22 January 2020
A rival company has stepped in to offer jobs to workers at the threatened Antolin Interiors factory at Hartlip near Sittingbourne as crisis talks with union bosses began today.
Valerie Mitchell, head of human resources at car engineering firm SGTechnologies, said: "We are only a small company but we are growing rapidly.
KMTV reporting on the job losses
"We are a global leader in the production of high-performance magnetic components but can't bear to see this raft of expertise possibly going to waste at Hartlip. This skill-set could easily be transferred to us. We would love some of them to come to talk to us."
The company makes 100 million state-of-the-art components for industry, consumer electronics and the automotive trade, including electric and hybrid vehicles, a year. Almost all are exported.
It is based in Rainham, Essex, and employs more than 200 workers. Valerie said: "We realise not everyone will want to commute but we are only on the other side of the Dartford Crossing."
She added: "We are seeking team players who can set their own targets, bring ideas to the table and give their best every day."
There are vacancies for an assistant buyer, automation and control technician, customer service manager, quality assurance supervisor, health and safety manager, injection moulding operators, inspectors, lab technician, electrical and mechanical maintenance technicians and production team leaders.
The factory is based in the borough of Havering, East London. It offers 25 days annual leave, contributory pension, life insurance, subsidised canteen and social club.
Applications, with CVs, should be emailed torecruitment@SGTec.com
The 300-strong workforce at Hartlip near Sittingbourne was left devastated this month after bosses told them they wanted to close the site, which makes products for Jaguar Land Rover, at the end of the year.
The union, which represents the vast majority of staff, says it had not received any form of business case for why the site should close. The company has blamed falling sales volumes and the geographical location of the factory. Brexit has also been mentioned.
Formal talks over the proposed closure between Unite and the company’s management are to begin today.
Antolin Interiors, part of the Spanish-based Grupo Antolin group, plans to cease production and close the factory between May and December this year.
Unite regional officer Mick Pollek said: “Unite believes the Hartlip factory can, and does, have a viable future."
He said failure to look at all options would be "decidedly shabby."
“The company needs to pause its proposal to close the factory until all avenues to maintain production are thoroughly explored, in full consultation with Unite. This area of Kent is in danger of being de-industrialised.
"This is yet another example of why the Government must develop an active industrial strategy to preserve and enhance the UK’s manufacturing base.”
One worker from Chatham, who did not want to be named, said: "We were once a centre of excellence.
"Since Antolin took over from Magna it has declined and failed because of major cuts and jobs being taken out of the factory.
"There was plenty of work here. They just took it elsewhere to other factories to bolster their decreasing workload. For Brexit and low car sales to be blamed is just a smoke screen. I suspect closing the factory has been Antolin's intention all along."
The worker said before the Antolin takeover, the factory used leather from specialist company Dowels in Dover. Antolin later switched suppliers to Spain and Dowels was forced to close with the loss of more than 150 jobs.
We have been unable to get a comment from Antolin Interiors.