The Northern District Committee of the Communist Party condemns the recent decision by Atmel to close its North Tyneside plant and throw the 600 employees there on the dole.

This is a bitter blow for the workers involved but also for the Northern region, which can ill-afford the loss of further skilled manufacturing jobs.

Following the Swan Hunter debacle, and many other less well-publicised closures, this decision by Atmel demonstrates once again the need for employment to be planned rather than left to the vagaries of the market.

While it is welcome that the £20 million subsidy will be repaid to the government, this will be of little benefit to the region if it is simply used to attract yet another fly-by-night employer.

Such transnational companies generally have little regard for the welfare of their workers, as further shown by Atmel's refusal to allow trade union representation.  All they are concerned about is maximising profits.  Sweeteners like the £20 million government grant without strings simply encourage them.

Companies awarded government grants but failing to make a long-term commitment to investment and employment must be subjected to punitive penalties.  Furthermore, trade union recognition rights must be a precondition of any grant award.

However, ultimately the solution to the crisis in manufacturing has to involve exchange and import controls, democratic planning and public ownership to go along with public investment.