Felling workers face uncertain New Year as Akzo Nobel lines up redundancies

The North East site's Dutch owners, Akzo Nobel plan to make 50 redundancies as part of a global cost cutting exercise

Akzo Nobel factory in Gateshead
Akzo Nobel factory in Gateshead

Scores of workers at International Paint in Felling face an uncertain Christmas as it was revealed 50 redundancies are to be made in the New Year.

Akzo Nobel, the Dutch owners of the Gateshead plant, are looking to make 41 redundancies within the marine and protective coatings operation and nine within the site’s finance function.

Union officials from Unite confirmed they had entered into consultation with the company, which is pursuing redundancies as part of an international restructuring exercise.

The Felling site specialises in the production of special marine and protective coatings, and in the past has provided protective coatings for iconic structures such as The Sage Gateshead, the Millennium Bridge and the London Eye.

Unite official Fazia Hussain-Brown told The Journal that a meeting between the union and AkzoNobel management was due to take place this week.

She said: “From the union’s perspective we’re looking to make sure there is a freeze on further recruitment at the plant; that notice is given to temporary workers before permanent staff; and that the company recognises voluntary redundancy notices.

“This is part of a global move on the part of the company. They are making a drastic cut in the whole worldwide operation to make savings.

“As we sit down with the company in the New Year we want to give our members the confidence that they have support on hand.”

She added: “Some of our members at the Felling site have worked in the same job their whole lives and many have never had to put a CV together or go to an interview. We want them to know there is support from the union to help them with such things.”

The Journal understands the planned redundancies will be phased in from the New Year to the end of March. A 30-day consultation period with employees is due to start.

In October the international paints giant Akzo Nobel revealed its third quarter profits had risen 32% on the back of cost savings and lower restructuring and financing costs

Net profit for the quarter was reported at €205m, compared with €155 in the same period last year.

Suggesting the firm was on track to meet 2015 targets, chief executive officer, Ton Büchner, said: “AkzoNobel delivered a solid third quarter performance, despite continued economic uncertainty. Return on sales improved for the fifth consecutive quarter to 9.1%, while operating income grew by 11%.

“Conditions continue to be challenging, but we have a resilient strategy focused on stimulating organic and sustainable growth.

“Coupled with the benefits from our ongoing operational efficiency programs, we are on track to deliver on our 2015 targets.”

Akzo Nobel, which also has a site at Ashington, Northumberland, did not respond to requests for comment on the story yesterday.

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