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Labour calls for Government to protect jobs at UK’s largest chip-making plant

Labour has called on the UK Government to help protect jobs and end the “dither and delay” over the proposed takeover of the UK’s largest chip-making plant.

Newport Wafer Fab in south Wales has been left in a precarious position since the UK Government ordered the Chinese-owned investment company Nexperia to sell the business in 2022, citing national security concerns.

Labour’s shadow Welsh secretary, Jo Stevens, is now calling for the Government to stop delaying the sale and to protect jobs.

The factory makes components used in everything from mobile phones to kettles and hairdryers.

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Vishay Intertechnology, an American firm, announced it wanted to buy the company in November 2023, but needed the green light from Westminster.

Ms Stevens said a decision should be made by the end of the month to prevent further redundancies, with 60 already having taken place in recent months.

Ms Stevens said: “Newport Wafer Fab is not just an innovative gem of south Wales manufacturing, but represents a glimpse of the high-skilled jobs and economy of the future the UK Government should be facilitating in Wales.

“But workers tell me that Government foot-dragging has them stuck in the mud.

“Conservative dither and delay is risking livelihoods and strategically significant assets in Wales.

“This economic self-sabotage is sadly not an isolated incident in Wales, and the Conservatives have long since lost the ability to promote any kind of industrial strategy. We will see innovation stifled and livelihoods lost unless ministers act now.”

While Nexperia is Dutch-based, it is the subsidiary of a Shanghai-based firm Wingtech.

Workers’ group the Newport Wafer Fab Staff Association has echoed the call.

It said: “The Government is still procrastinating over the sale of the Newport site to Vishay.

“This could lead to unintended consequences of further job losses in addition to the 25% reduction in workforce caused by the order so far, and ultimately site closure.

“It is time for the UK Government to stop hiding behind the national security banner and show more transparency in the process.

“They also need to realise that Vishay are a US company, ticking all the boxes that the divestment order requires.

“If the Government do not act soon, they are likely to lose this opportunity. The Government will ultimately be responsible for the success or failure of this site and our ability to have a sovereign supply chain of a “critical industry”.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We remain committed to a successful divestment of Nexperia Newport Ltd.

“We recognise the site plays an important role in the local economy and this is an uncertain time for employees and their families.

“Through our Semiconductor Strategy, we are working to ensure the UK sector continues to grow and thrive across the country, including in south Wales.”