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156 face job axe verdict

PUBLISHED: 13:07 02 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

AROUND 100 workers at a Felixstowe factory were today facing an uncertain future as an announcement was set to be made about their jobs.

The smart card division of hi-tech firm Schlumberger was preparing to announce that it is moving out of the seaside town - leaving workers with the dilemma of whether or not to uproot their families and relocate to Hampshire.

AROUND 100 workers at a Felixstowe factory were today facing an uncertain future as an announcement was set to be made about their jobs.

The smart card division of hi-tech firm Schlumberger was preparing to announce that it is moving out of the seaside town – leaving workers with the dilemma of whether or not to uproot their families and relocate to Hampshire.

Meanwhile, the company's electricity metering manufacturing division, which also has premises in Carr Road, is not affected by the developments.

It is understood around 100 people work at the smart cards division in Felixstowe but bosses have decided to consolidate operations at the company's other card base in Fareham, Hampshire.

Workers are expected to be offered relocation packages to move to Fareham, but it is not certain whether all will be offered posts.

Many with families and who have lived in the Felixstowe and Ipswich area some time may choose to look for other work in Suffolk.

Details of the reasons for the decision by Schlumberger – Felixstowe's second biggest employer after the port – were unclear but a full announcement was expected today.

The high-security smart card operation opened about three years ago in part of the premises in Carr Road, making computer-chip cards able to store all kinds of information for banks, industry and governments.

The secure plant was at the forefront of the new card technology and in November last year was announced as the site for a new £2.5 million investment project to design, produce and deploy payment cards for UK banks.

The work involved moving the traditional magnetic stripe cards on to new-generation smart credit and debit cards.

The centre handled every step in the complex chain from plastic card production, printing and embossing; magnetic stripe and chip personalisation; linking the card with a personal letter; and sending the card to the customer.

Schlumberger employs 89,000 people in 160 countries, including working in the oil and gas fields, IT technology, electricity metering and systems, and smart cards.

Its other Felixstowe centre, Schlumberger RMS (Resource Management Systems) employs around 300 people and makes state-of-the-art electricity measurement equipment for the worldwide markets, as well as carrying out valuable research.

Its managing director Chris Saunders could not comment on the smart card operation but said Schlumberger RMS was "not affected" by the changes being announced by the company.

The company moved to Felixstowe in 1964 when it was known as Sangamo Western, later Sangamo Metering, before it was taken over by Schlumberger.

During the 1980s around 700 people were employed at the site. Its original factory in Langer Road is now a distribution warehouse for another company, and it is located in a hi-tech £8 million factory, built a decade ago, in Carr Road.

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