Worried worker says 90 jobs at risk in Letchworth after he was told BOC plant is to close

A worker has said that the BOC plant in Dunhams Lane is set to close down.

A worker has said that the BOC plant in Dunhams Lane is set to close down. - Credit: Archant

A worried worker says about 90 jobs are at risk in Letchworth after he was told along with his colleagues that the BOC plant in Dunhams Lane is to close.

Although the Letchworth depot of BOC – which is the largest supplier of industrial gases in the UK – has yet to confirm the claims, it is believed that noise complaints and the state of the wider economy have been listed as reasons which could see the plant shut.

Speaking to the Comet anonymously, an employee said: “We were told by the BOC team of representatives that North Herts District Council had told them to close – this is nonsense as a local authority would never say that to a major employer.

“Other apparent justifications for closure had also been cited, including the state of economy, cost saving and a profits shortfall.

“BOC is not financially in trouble – quite the opposite. The company made £300 million profit in the UK this year alone and Letchworth has always been a major contributor to profitability.

“What we do have is an ageing workforce and we believe that ultimately they want younger fitter staff, on temporary or agency contracts for half of our current salary rates who will produce even more – this is why we believe that they are shutting us down.”

Andy Godman, who is head of public protection at the district council, said: “We are very sad to hear that BOC is intending to close its Letchworth depot.

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“The company has a long association with the town and is very much a part of the community.

“The council did receive noise complaints about the plant, but we’ve worked with BOC to try to resolve these and believe we had reached a resolution.”

A spokesman for BOC said that the company would ‘not comment on rumours’. But in response to the Comet’s enquiry, the firm issued the following statement: “In response to the deepening slowdown that is affecting the global economy and the UK manufacturing sector, and subsequent changes in customer requirements, BOC is carrying out a review of its operations in the UK.

“We anticipate this may result in a number of job losses which would be managed in accordance with our long-established consultation procedures.

“We regret any impact that this will have on affected employees and will seek to mitigate the impact where possible, but the changes are necessary to ensure we have a business that remains sustainable in the longer-term. We will not be able to comment further until all organisational impacts have been identified and people informed.”