Crane attacked over pay offs

UNION leaders today accused bosses at manufacturer Crane of being Christmas Scrooges over the level of redundancy pay on offer to long-serving workers.

UNION leaders today accused bosses at manufacturer Crane of being Christmas Scrooges over the level of redundancy pay on offer to long-serving workers.

Crane have revealed plans to close its foundry, with the loss of 210 jobs expected, days after it agreed an £18million site sale.

A regional officer for the Amicus section of Unite said he feared staff who have worked at the Nacton Road site for 30 years could be entitled to around £7,000 - worth less than £4.50 a week for those who have served three decades.

Ian Marshall, whose union represents more than 100 staff at the valve manufacturer, said workers deserved between £10,000 and £14,000.

But Peter Wilson, managing director of Crane, denied his claims and said “inflammatory statements” would alarm workers.

Mr Marshall said there had been a lack of consultation over the redundancies.

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He said: “It was a real shock that it happened so quickly. Last week they said they were considering various options and there was no indication the site would close by the end of next year.

“To hear this a week before Christmas is rubbing salt into the wounds.”

Mr Marshall said he hoped the planned 90-day consultation would see the number of redundancies reduced.

Half the jobs will go to Crane's factory in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, and the remainder to its China factory.

Mr Wilson said he did not know how the union got such financial figures.

He said: “We have to make tough decision but we will treat workers properly. Making inflammatory statements does not help the situation.”

Mr Wilson also said he hoped some staff will accept an offer of transferring to Hitchin and that the number of redundancies was undecided.

Crane was obliged to make public its plans now because it is part of a company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, so it is obliged to be open and Crane staff have been aware of the company's intention to sell the land since late summer, he added.

“And if people are going to lose their jobs the sooner they know the better.”

Crane, which had a turnover of £128m in 2005 - the last year for which figures are available - plans to keep its head office in Ipswich and move to new office accommodation here.

Finance, IT, engineering, quality, supply, sales and customer service will largely be unaffected.

Crane decided to move after agreeing the site sale. Current operations will continue unchanged during the first quarter of 2008, when Crane will start the consultation.

N Were you one of the workers affected? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

CRANE has supplied its products to major developments, such as control valves for management of the heating and air-conditioning systems for Tower Wharf, a six story office development on Bristol's floating harbour district, and control valves for Arsenal's £357million 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium.

Its move represents the end of 86 years of manufacturing by the company in Ipswich.

The origins of Crane date from 1906 when James Bennett set up a coppersmith business in London. He saw there was a growing interest in the latest American pipe fittings and valves and started importing them.

Among the products he introduced to Britain were those of Crane Co, an American company founded in the mid-19th century.

In 1919, Crane Co bought the assets of the English company and changed its name to Crane-Bennett Ltd with the intention of making products in England. Two years later it acquired the Nacton Road site in Ipswich to accommodate a purpose-built factory.

In 1932, the company changed its name again to Crane Ltd and in more recent years it has operated as Crane Fluid Systems.

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