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pounds 36m JOB SAVER; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: MARIE SHARP & IAN DOW

A GIANT computer firm is to save 700 Scots jobs and create hundreds more by spending pounds 36million.

American firm Sun Micro- systems is ploughing the cash into a major extension at its factory in Linlithgow.

The investment comes weeks after the firm announced record quarterly losses of pounds 1.42billion. Linlithgow workers feared the worst late last year as the firm announced job cuts worldwide.

Princess Anne will be a guest when the cash injection is formally announced tomorrow.

Bosses plan to boost production at Linlithgow, Sun's only plant in Europe, by 50 per cent. They will also set up a call centre on the site.

Councillor Willie Dunn, West Lothian's head of economic development, said Sun's move could mean hundreds of new jobs in the next few months.

He said: "It's very good news indeed. This is a very significant extension to the existing Sun plant and it shows their commitment to staying in West Lothian.

"The plant already employs 700 people and there is the hope that this will create many more."

Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell added: "Its very much to the credit of Sun Micro- systems that they have expanded the facility after having had a difficulty time over the previous two years."

The pounds 36 million investment includes a grant from Government agency Locate in Scotland. The size of the payment has not been revealed.

Sun will combine all their call centre services at Linlithgow. Previously, the work was divided among three sites in America and Europe.

The future for the Linlithgow factory looked bleak last October as Sun announced plans to shed 10per cent of its worldwide workforce.

But this week's good news is a much-needed boost for West Lothian's electronics industry, hit recently by the closures of Motorola and NEC Semiconducors plants and the loss of thousands of jobs.

Sun has escaped the worst of the computer industry's recent troubles by concentrating on the high end of the market. It builds industrial computer servers which can cost up to pounds 1 million each.

A company spokeswoman said the investment signalled the firm's commitment to Scotland, where it has had a base since 1980.

She said: "It will ensure that jobs there are safe.

"It is likely that more jobs will be created in the coming months, although at this stage we are not speculating on the numbers."

MAJOR SCOTS JOB LOSSES

Motorola shed 3000 jobs as they pulled out of Bathgate in 2001

Grampian Foods axed 500 jobs at Newbridge.

Mitsubishi shut their TV plant in Haddington with the loss of 520 jobs.

The same firm closed their Livingston factory with 280 job losses.

Chunghwa axe fell on 600 jobs at its Lanarkshire plant.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 25, 2003
Words:456
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