A major new contract which could put a threatened Midland Marconi factory in line for new work will not save the plant, it emerged today.
But union officials fear Coventry's New Horizon Park operation is set to be used as a testing ground before the plant is axed and the work is transferred abroad. The company has confirmed the factory is likely to complete aspects of a contract announced last week for Cable & Wireless.
However, a spokesman for Marconi said it was possible the contract may kick in after the factory has closed - and in either case the long-term future for work at New Horizon Park was in Italy.
"Unfortunately I cannot say that the finishing work would have any impact on the long-term future of New Horizon Park," he said.
The union Amicus was today planning to raise the issue at a meeting with management.
Regional officer Barry Robinson said: "Our members will be very interested in hearing answers on this. Perhaps the plan is to use the factory as a testing ground for the contract before the work is moved on to Italy. We will be seeking clarification and will respond accordingly."
The union has already pledged to take whatever industrial action necessary to save the plant which is earmarked for closure with the loss of 180 jobs.
Marconi and Cable & Wireless have refused to say what the value of the contract unveiled last week was.
But the Marconi spokesman said the 12 month deal was a major boost and "shows real confidence in Marconi as we look to the future".
The company was providing the "intelligence to allow Cable & Wireless to convey data traffic - such as internet, video conferencing and a range of others - more efficiently and cheaply" for its next generation network. Last month, Marconi announced plans to shed around 800 jobs nationally following a decision by BT to award a major contract to oversees companies.
That included the loss of 180 positions at New Horizon and the plant's closure. A further 270 jobs are due to go at New Century Park.