FLINTSHIRE was dealt a major blow yesterday with the announcement that the Corning Optical Fibres factory on Deeside Industrial Park is to close with the loss of 460 jobs.
The company had already laid off contract workers but paid them in full without requiring them to work their notice to try to reduce the impact on its own direct workforce.
'Corning has seen an unprecedented drop in business recently and the conditions of the global market have forced us to close,' said European communications director John O' Hare.
'It's nothing to do with the workforce at Deeside.
'They did everything we asked but we needed to protect the company and couldn't go on manufacturing when the demand wasn't there.
'We realise our employees are not just numbers - they are people with hopes, dreams and careers and it's difficult to describe the mood at the factory.'
Mr O'Hare said the company was temporarily slowing down business globally but the Deeside factory would definitely be facing closure by the end of the year.
The workers were presented with the news by optical fibres division vice-president Tom Nettleman and given the opportunity to ask questions.
The company is now reviewing support packages for workers during the 90-day consulation period.
'We have issued a statement to the company,' said AEEU regional engineering union officer Alwyn Rowlands.
'We need a little time to digest the bad news especially when the workers have been told they are the best labour force in the company only to be rewarded with closure.
'We will challenge this decision and will use all available channels both political and legal to try to reverse this decision in a professional manner.
'If we cannot successfully challenge the closure then all 460 workers will become unemployed overnight with no hope of redeployment as all Corning's other bases are overseas.
'That would be disastrous for Flintshire's economy.
'We will be meeting the company at 9am on Monday to discuss the situation.'
'This really is terrible news,' said Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami.
'The situation at Corning appears to have deteriorated rapidly over the past few weeks.
'I was hoping complete closure could be avoided but now offer my full support to the company and its employees.'
Corning was in jubilant mood just over 12 months ago, announcing a $50m plan to upgrade its Deeside factory.