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Car parts factory Antolin Interiors to close Hartlip factory putting 300 jobs at risk

Up to 300 workers face losing their jobs after a major employer announced it is to shut its factory.

Staff at Antolin Interiors, which makes car parts for companies like Jaguar Land Rover have been told the site in Spade Lane off the A2 at Hartlip near Sittingbourne is to close.

Joe Coshan speaks to one of the workers

Many come from Sittingbourne and Sheppey. Unite the union has now stepped in to try and save the factory.

One worker from the Island, who did not want to be named, said: "It was an absolutely devastating day for us all. It's more than 300 jobs."

"The mood in the factory is very low. Everybody is gutted. For the past year we have been worrying about our jobs but we were told it was OK.

"We all knew we were losing business but definitely did not expect to close so soon."

The announcement was made by UK regional director Mark Wilsdonlast Wednesday. He blamed the decision on a global slump in car sales.

Devastated: workers discovered they were being made redundant at the Grupo Antolin factory at Hartlip
Devastated: workers discovered they were being made redundant at the Grupo Antolin factory at Hartlip

Workers, many in the Unite union, now face redundancy when the factory closes at the end of the year.

Mr Wilsdon said: "The commercial challenges facing the UK, and indeed the global automotive industry, are well documented. Over the last two years we have taken a number of difficult but necessary steps to restructure the Antolin Hartlip business.

"However, we continue to see long-term decline in customer volumes and little prospect of new contracts. Additionally, we have the unavoidable challenges of the site's geographical location relative to both our customers and other UK sites."

He added: "These elements, combined, are resulting in current and projected serious financial losses for the site.It is, therefore, with great regret, that we are announcing a proposal to close operations for the site."

Workers were summoned to the site's main hall to hear the news.

One, who again did not want to be named, said: "I have worked here for more than 20 years . The news is devastating.

Antolin Interiors, Spade Lane, Hartlip to close. Picture: Google
Antolin Interiors, Spade Lane, Hartlip to close. Picture: Google

"We have people who have spent their entire working lives here, over 40 years. They are not yet old enough to retire but will struggle to get new jobs.

"The company has decided to move our work to the Midlands into other plants as they have more plants up there. They say our plant is not performing, mainly due to Brexit.

"We are all due to lose our jobs between May and December yet none of us know exactly when we will be out of a job. This is very unsettling for families.

"We have many couples working here who enjoy the shift patterns as it helps with childcare."

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Mr Wilsdon said: "The company has not taken the decision to put forward this proposal lightly."

Those not in a union have until January 16 to nominate a representative. The first consultation with staff is on January 28.

The company is part of Grupo Antolin which has its roots in Spain and 151 plants in 25 countries including 10 in the UK.

It says it will make a permanent decision about the Hartlip closure on March 27 but predicts a phased transfer of work to other sites between May and December.

Staff will be able to apply for transfer to other bases with a "significant number" of additional roles created at Barton, north Yorkshire.

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