AROUND 40 workers at a Cwmbran factory are set to lose their jobs, just weeks after the firm was visited by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Ninety jobs are also being axed from a Newport battery maker, while there are fears for more than 500 more electronics jobs in Newport.

Cwmbran's Contour Premium Aircraft Seating announced a “proposed head count reduction” of up to 40 employees on Wednesday.

In a statement, a company spokeswoman said: “The proposal is part of an exercise to reduce company overheads and could potentially result in up to 40 employees being made redundant.”

The company, which employs around 900 people at its factory on Llantarnam Industrial Estate, designs and develops new seats for airlines across the world and supplies the Airbus A380 and the Boeing B797. Contour’s largest contract is with Lufthansa.

The redundancies come just weeks after the Prime Minister visited the factory on January 9 as part of tour of England and Wales. Mr Brown said when he visited: "It's good to be here at a successful business."

Speaking at the time, Paul Carter, chief executive of Contour’s parent company, Premier Aircraft Interiors, said Contour’s order book was still strong, but they would not be immune from the downturn in the economy.

An employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said workers were told of the cuts at around lunchtime, but it was not yet clear what jobs would be affected.

He said: “I guess it’s expected due to the current state of the economy, although it’s not as bad as some other places.”

Mark Crompton, managing director, said: "We have a solid order book but are experiencing some delays and cancellation from customers due to the Boeing B787 and Airbus A380 aircraft slippages and the current economic turndown. "We are confident for the future but need to take action to keep our costs to a minimum to ensure that we remain competitive. "It is our aim to mitigate the impact of this action on our employees as much as possible during the forthcoming consultation period.” Elsewhere, more than 500 workers in Newport face an anxious time after a Japanese-electronics giant announced plans to close 27 plants and axe 15,000 jobs worldwide.

Panasonic had not released any further details about which employees would be affected when we went to press.

More than 500 people work at the factory in Pencarn Way, Duffryn, making telephones and fax machines.

Another 1,000 plus are employed in Cardiff which, as well as manufacturing electronic products, is the European research and development centre.

Panasonic said half the job losses and plant closures will be in Japan and the rest overseas.

It was reported that the company - expecting to make a huge loss in this financial year after being hit by a stronger yen, falling sales and the global economic slump - was making the cuts to reduce costs Newport's council leader Cllr Matthew Evans described the news as "deeply concerning".

He said Panasonic had been a major employer in Newport for many years and they had enjoyed a productive relationship.

"It is vital that it alerts staff about any possible redundancies as soon as possible," he said.

Ninety lose their jobs at battery company

TEMPORARY and agency workers were axed at a Newport battery manufacturer, due to a downturn in business.

EnerSys Ltd announced it was cutting 90 temporary and agency jobs in its manufacturing operations yesterday.

The company designs and develops lead acid batteries, supplying the telecoms and IT industries as well as the Ministry of Defence.

Its Stephenson Street based site employs around 470 people.

EnerSys is one of the world’s largest industrial battery manufacturer, with manufacturing and assembly facilities across in more than 100 countries.

An EnerSys spokeswoman said the decision to axe temporary roles had come after a “downturn in business” but it was only temporary workers who would be affected.

She added: “We are just trying to help workers where we can.”