End of the road for Motorola's Bathgate factory

Despite an appeal from Tony Blair, manufacturing will end at a Scottish Motorola plant today

The closure of Motorola's Bathgate factory on Monday shows that not even a Prime Minister can defy the tech slump.

Over 3,000 workers will lose their jobs when the plant closes today, three months after its demise was confirmed. Motorola has blamed the decision on a drop in demand for mobile phones -- something affecting the whole sector. However, union leaders have been angered by the move, and by Motorola's refusal to negotiate with them.

It emerged back in April that the US mobile phone giant was planning to cease manufacturing handsets at its factory in Bathgate, Scotland. Faced with furious unions and workers, Tony Blair took the rare step of making a phone call to Motorola president Chris Galvin during which he appealed, unsuccessfully, for the factory to remain open.

Union leaders said that the Bathgate plant was profitable, and that it was only being closed because it was cheaper than shutting another Motorola factory in Germany. Sources within the factory have told ZDNet that many workers spent their final weeks fixing defective phones made at the German plant.

According to a government task force, over a third of the Bathgate workers have already found new employment. "We've been given frequent job-shops, and plenty of information on how to prepare for redundancy and look for a new job," company sources confirmed.

Motorola is far from the only technology company to announce cuts recently. Close to 50,000 high-tech job losses were reported in April alone, from the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Marconi and Philips. The mobile sector was particularly badly hit.

The US mobile giant made headlines on Monday by announcing plans to sell its proprietary technologies to other manufacturers.

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