Fears for Motorola's Scottish chip plants

If Motorola pulls out of the semiconductor market as rumours suggest, the move could further impact on UK jobs
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

There are concerns that two Scotland factories could close if Motorola decides to sell off or close its semiconductors division.

Over 2,600 people are employed at the two plants, in South Queensferry and East Kilbride. Motorola employees are understood to be concerned that the factories are under threat following comments reportedly made by senior executives.

It is thought that the US mobile phone giant is considering pulling out of the semiconductor business, after experiencing a big drop in orders. Motorola has been badly hit by the slump in the mobile sector, and according to recent reports company president Robert Growney has told analysts that the loss-making chip-making division could be sold.

According to the Scotsman.com, analysts are expecting Motorola to sell off its semiconductor division within two or three years if the unit does not achieve financial targets. The company's policy would seem to be that "no segment is immune" as it evaluates its business. Motorola is still smarting from posting its second consecutive loss-making quarter last month.

Over 2,600 people are employed at the two plants, in South Queensferry and East Kilbride. The company recently announced the closure of two semiconductor factories in Arizona, and recently shut another Scottish factory at Bathgate.

ZDNet reported back in May that the future of the Queensferry factory was in doubt. Motorola was thought to be listening to offers for the plant, leaving union leaders expressing concerns that the 600 workers could lose their jobs. Production at the factory was previously scheduled to move to a new building in nearby, Dunfermline but the opening of this factory has been indefinitely postponed because of the slump in the mobile market.

According to ZDNet sources within Motorola, staff had been told earlier this year that the South Queensferry factory was more likely to be shut than the Bathgate plant. It is also thought that Motorola's sub-contractors have also been forced to lay off staff after a drop in orders from the company.

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