PEUGEOT chiefs were today accused of being inflexible over the Ryton redundancies which have left 600 ex-staff claiming jobseekers' allowance. The jobless figure is expected to rise this week as the last workers leave the Coventry factory which closes today.

A source close to the Peugeot Partnership, a multi-agency organisation set up to help deal with the aftermath of the closure, said: "Although Peugeot has done everything they said they would to make it work, they have not been very flexible in giving information.

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"If they had been as helpful as Agco when it closed its factory at Banner Lane or Jaguar when it stopped production at Browns Lane, the whole process would have been better and smoother for everyone.

"They could have provided more information so we knew when and where the workers were going.

"We were often not told until the last minute that some workers had finished there and that made it difficult to come up with responses."

Bringing the closure forward from next summer to December had also made helping the workers find jobs and training more difficult, the source said.

Jim O'Boyle, the Transport & General Workers Union convenor for the site, said: "This gives the lie to the company's claims that they were closing early because people wanted to leave because they had new jobs.

"There are about 700 more people people who will have left this week. Many of them haven't got jobs and it is only going to get worse."

Of the first 1,200 workers who left Peugeot in August, 400 are already in new employment and another 400 are in re-training for work, 200 unemployed or on incapacity, and 200 have retired or gone abroad.

But the unemployment numbers have risen in recent months as the closure approached, and 600 were claiming JSA at the end of November.

Bob Fenton, spokesman for Peugeot, said: "The Job Centre Plus has told us that it has never worked with a company which has provided as much support for its employees as us. We have done everything we can to ensure our employees have the best possible opportunities to find work."

>> Peugeot justify closure

>> The day closure became a reality

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