RUMOURS that a major announcement on the future of Newport's LG Philips Displays is imminent were today growing.

The plant employs 934 people - but many are taking enforced short breaks because demand for the factory's TVs and computer monitors is so poor.

One worried caller told the Argus a secret meeting had been held between the firm and the Assembly to discuss closure announcements.

And another worker said: "Morale is on its knees and everyone is just hanging on for their redundancy. We've given up hope of any recovery."

Local Amicus-AEEU union convener Peter Radmilovic said: "I ask management what is happening just about every day but there have been no answers.

"The market seems worse than ever. We should be ramping up production at this time of year but so far we've seen no sign of it.

"We're also being overtaken by flat screen, LCD and plasma screen technologies."

At the end of March the company cut one of its two production lines with the loss of around 100 agency staff.

The LG Philips Displays operation has not received the kind of investment necessary to make cutting-edge products such as plasma screens.

This has made it vulnerable to cheap imports.

A spokesperson for the company said: "Like all LG Philips Displays plants worldwide, Newport is operating in a viciously competitive market and is striving to drive down costs and improve productivity with full co-operation of all employees.

"The Newport production line is suffering from a reduced demand for computer tubes coupled with a seasonal downturn in orders for TV tubes."

Behind the scenes there is another major issue unfolding over the £200 million in government grant assistance to LG Electronics (one of the two partners in LG Philips Displays).

If guarantees were put in place regarding certain production or employment milestones this could be a key factor in LG Philips Displays' handling of the current situation.

But no one at the Assembly would discuss whether the LG Philips joint-venture is liable to repay grant funds on a deal made with LG Electronics.

A spokesperson said: "The LG Electronics project has not proceeded as the company planned and the Assembly and the Welsh Development Agency are in discussions with LG Electronics. The details are confidential."