A TOTAL of 142 jobs were set to go at Taunton optronics firm Thales the County Gazette reported in February 2006.

Staff heard the bombshell at a meeting at the Lisieux Way factory.

Only 73 jobs would remain when the existing manufacturing business transferred to the company’s Glasgow site by the end of the year.

A couple of years previously French-owned Thales took over the former Avimo factory, which opened in Taunton in 1937 and at its peak employed 850 workers.

Company spokesman Guy Douglas said: “While there will be an option for employees to transfer to Glasgow, numbers can’t be guaranteed.

“Regrettably, as a result approximately 140 jobs are potentially at risk of redundancy.

“We now go into a period of consultation with staff and trades unions, during which all individual options will be investigated, including the transfer of staff to Glasgow and other Thales UK business units where


“Following transfers within Thales UK it’s anticipated that the number of compulsory redundancies will be significantly lower.”

The business moving to Glasgow included the manufacture of armoured fighting vehicle sights, lasers and aircraft reconnaissance products.

Mr Douglas said Thales UK needed to reduce costs and increase efficiency, and the work was going to Glasgow as it was the firm’s “optronics manufacturing centre of excellence”.

Engineering, sales and marketing functions would stay in Taunton, as would the beryllium and aerospace component businesses, though they were up for sale.

Workers were offered the afternoon off to digest the news.

One, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Rumours had been rife, but everyone’s gutted.

“Some have worked here for 30-odd years and aren’t going to find another job.

"No-one wants to move to Glasgow.

“It looks as though things are quiet in Glasgow, so they’ve decided to take our work away.”

Taunton MP Jeremy Browne said he was sad about the announcement and he had spoken to managing director Gary Francis.

Mr Browne said: “Thales is exactly the type of high skills employment we need to encourage in Taunton Deane.

“The company is renowned for its pioneering research and willingness to train people from our local community.

“Large international companies like Thales are free to make their own decisions, but I believe they’ve made a mistake in downgrading their Taunton operation.

“There are people who have worked for the company for decades and I’ll be pressing very hard for everyone affected by this announcement to be treated generously."

Thales no longer has a presence in Taunton.