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pounds 2m SELL-OUT; Taiwan firm flogs posh estate to cash in on property boom, a week after sacking 600 Scots.

Byline: Mark McGivern Exclusive

THE firm axing 600 Scots jobs are making a mint by flogging a luxury "Taiwanese village" created for their top brass.

Television tube maker Chunghwa are set to make a pounds 2million profit from the sale of 18 homes bought for bosses at their Lanarkshire plant.

The move has infuriated staff at the Holytown factory.

They are already angry that executives are heading back to cushy jobs in the Far East, while Scots workers will be thrown on to the dole when the complex shuts in January.

One Chunghwa worker said: "This is really galling for staff.

"Everyone knows the Taiwanese, Chinese and Malaysian managers will be looked after, while we have to sign on.

"The company has mucked around and given us false hope while they pick up big handouts. They shouldn't be able to profit from these homes.

"It was a hot investment, but they have made no investment in our future."

Chunghwa have received pounds 30m of taxpayers' cash since the plant was opened.

In 1997, they paid pounds 3m for 18 homes in the exclusive Castle Gate estate, Bothwell.

Seven of the houses have already been sold and the rest will go on the market in the next three months.

A property boom means the firm are likely to get pounds 5million in total for the homes.

One house due to be sold belongs to Chunghwa's UK managing director Jimmy Wu. His five- bedroom house was bought for around pounds 190,000 five years ago. Experts believe it is now worth up to pounds 290,000.

Hugh Muir, of Lanarkshire estate agents Clyde Properties, said: "This is a prime area for properties.

"It is likely that any property would have made a good profit in the past few years."

A spokesman for the AEEU union said it wasn't right for the company to make profits on property after the way they have treated their workers.

He said: "It would strike me as morally questionable that such profits are being made when Scottish subsidies were flushed away by this company."

Chunghwa only told workers this week that the factory was to close. But they have been scaling down operations for two years, despite promises of expansion.

The fact that seven of their homes have already been sold is seen as further proof that they have been planning to move out for a while.

One worker said: "It seems odd that they were selling off homes two years ago at a time when the workforce was meant to be expanding.

"This seems to be an admission that they would be bailing out of Scotland, but they still kept taking the handouts."

Last night, a spokesman for Chunghwa said: "The homes will be sold as the workers occupying them move on."

He denied that workers from the Far East had been offered new jobs, adding: "Nothing has been guaranteed. Everyone is in the same boat."

Neighbours on the Castle Gate estate said the Far Eastern families integrated well.

One resident said: "They have been very good neighbours and their children have been lovely. They are very polite and very well- behaved.

"I know the families have felt very welcome here."

Many wives of Chunghwa managers were taught to speak English at specially-arranged lessons at a local community centre.

Two of the wives have admitted their husbands had already been offered jobs back home.

Chunghwa promised to create 3200 jobs at the plant after opening in 1996.

But even at its peak, the workforce only reached 1400.

The firm received pounds 15m in regional assistance, pounds 10.8m in rates rebates and pounds 3.75m for training.

The Scottish Executive are investigating the company in a bid to claw back some of the investment.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 7, 2002
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