Key Plastics Inc. reportedly is laying off 200 workers at a subsidiary in England.
The employees at automotive parts supplier Moulded Plastics Ltd. of Tamworth, England, have been told that the plant will close Feb. 13. Novi, Mich.-based Key acquired the plant in September.
Key's British subsidiary, Key Plastics (UK) Ltd., will keep open the plant's toolroom and engineering section, which employ 24, according to Richard Wood, full-time Tamworth officer of the General, Municipal and Boilermakers Union, which represents most of the work force.
The Tamworth plant molds polypropylene interior trim products and fiberglass-reinforced radiator tanks.
Union officials are angry because they believe Key, which also operates a plant that molds trim and under-the-hood components at Coventry, England, simply bought Moulded Plastics ``to take out a competitor.''
``The question being asked is, was this [Key's] intention from day one, with a view to moving [Moulded Plastics'] work over to Coventry?'' Wood said.
He said management has refused to consult or negotiate with the union.
Key Plastics management in Britain and the United States did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Plant union shop steward Tim Moore claimed the company has gone back on a promise made after Key bought Moulded Plastics. Workers were told that if the plant became profitable it would stay open, Moore said. He said the plant now has plenty of work and is making money.
Moore said the firm blames the shutdown on problems facing the British car industry.
``We would have looked to put forward proposals to the management. But, my impression from the first day was that this is not a management prepared to negotiate,'' Wood said.
Moulded Plastics was sold in September by control systems group Concentric plc of Sutton Coldfield, England. Key paid £5.68 million ($9.49 million).
Moulded Plastics has about 40 injection presses with clamping forces to 1,300 tons. Customers include Rover and Honda.
Key's Coventry plant has 68 Sandretto injection presses as large as 1,100 tons and employs about 300. It also molds interior trim for Rover and Honda.