Alcan workers could be offered new jobs in the Middle East

MORE than 100 new jobs could be offered to workers who are being made redundant at Alcan, but they will have to move to the Middle East to take them.

Rio Tinto Alcan plant at Lynemouth, Northumberland
Rio Tinto Alcan plant at Lynemouth, Northumberland

MORE than 100 new jobs could be offered to workers who are being made redundant at Alcan, but they will have to move to the Middle East to take them.

An un-named international aluminium company is holding out the prospect of new employment for up to 130 people who are losing their jobs under the phased closure of the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter at Lynemouth.

Interviews will be carried out at the Lynemouth plant next month and the company has already told Rio Tinto bosses that everyone who is found to be suitable will be offered a job.

The downside is workers will have to move to the Middle East if they want to accept the offer.

Yesterday Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said the idea that 130 workers would move from south east Northumberland to the Middle East was “complete and utter poppycock”, and called for Government support to create new businesses and jobs in the local area.

The news was revealed yesterday, which saw the final shift completed at the smelter, two months after the power supply to its pot rooms was shut down.

In total 290 workers at the smelter, which until recently employed 515 people, saw their contracts terminated yesterday, although there has been a steady stream leaving the site throughout this week.

It leaves about 190 people employed at the plant: 65 in the carbon plant which will close in August, 64 in the casting unit which will remain open until the end of the year and 61 on a team which will help de-commission the smelter over the next two years.

Yesterday John McCabe, Alcan’s regional economic development director, said: “People have been coming in to pick up their personal belongings, fill in admin forms and say goodbye to colleagues they have worked with. It is a very sad time.”

Referring to the potential Middle East jobs, he said: “We acknowledge that is not going to be an appropriate option for everyone, but it will be for some. Some people have already expressed a keen interest in that possibility.”

Mr Lavery said: “I want all of these workers to have the opportunity of a skilled job in south east Northumberland.

“We should not be expecting people to move away thousands of miles for work.

“This is a very, very sad day as far as I’m concerned, and an economic and emotional catastrophe for this area.”

Rio Tinto announced the planned closure – and the proposed sale of the Lynemouth power station where a further 111 people work – last November. The closure was confirmed in mid-March.

Mr McCabe said 28 workers have chosen to retire, 32 are setting up their own business, 40 have accepted alternative posts with Rio Tinto and 40 have left with redundancy pay and found new jobs.

 
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