Trucks carrying sawdust turned away from Sonae Indústria's 500,000 m3/year Knowsley, England, particleboard plant as speculation mounts that production will stop this week

LOS ANGELES , September 12, 2012 () – Trucks carrying sawdust to the Sonae Industria (UK) particleboard plant in Knowsley, Merseyside, were turned away last Wednesday as rumors circulated that the plant could halt production this week, according to a report by the Liverpool Echo.

No formal announcement has been made, but one employee interviewed by the Echo said production had all but stopped and the last wood was being processed. The worker said production was expected to stop from around Sept. 12 after trucks arriving with sawdust were turned away last week.

Many of the plant's 220 workers were handed letters on Friday which detailed procedures that would be followed if a decision was taken to close the plant. Workers said they were given redundancy notices last month, and had been told that they must be must be off site from Sept. 7. Some staff are reported to have received letters containing details of redundancy payments they would receive if the plant closed.

Portugal-based Sonae said in July that it would enter consultations over the factory's future, claiming political and planning difficulties were making it impossible for it to compete in current market conditions.

Managing director of the UK operation Nigel Graham said information had been supplied to employees to give them some understanding of what the position may be, should it ultimately be decided that the plant would close.

Alastair Kerr, director general of UK trade group The Wood Panel Industries Federation, said the plant had not issued a formal notice but was expected to cease production this week. He noted that panel plants must run 24/7 to be profitable, and stressed that stopping production and closing the business were two different things.

The primary source of this article is the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool, U.K., on Sept. 8, 2012.

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