A TINY country village is reeling from a major blow to local employment after a dozen jobs were axed at its oldest and biggest company. The death knell could now be ringing for Hanson Brick works in Claughton, just North of Lancaster, where the workforce has been slashed by a quarter to just 38. Staff at the famous site, which has been making bricks since 1898, have until tomorrow (Friday) to volunteer for 12 redundancies.

If not, bosses will show the unlucky few the back door after years of dedicated service.

"We had no choice," revealed national marketing manager, Bryn Cross. "The industry is terribly depressed and we had to make cuts to remain competitive.

"We regret it on both a personal and industrial level because it's a sad reflection of business in general."

Regional and works union representatives from the General Municipal & Boilermakers' Union and the Amalgamated Engineering & Workers' Union are trying to thrash out a deal.

Staff at the works - virtually the only employer in the village - are naturally apprehensive but realistic.

"The cuts were half expected," reflected production manager Dale Humphrey. "It's not a nice thing to have to tell anyone that after years of hard work that their jobs are finished.

"We make a very good product, it's a great shame demand has dried up."

Hanson Brick Ltd has 15 similar operations across the country employing around 2,250 staff but the cuts are only affecting the Claughton site.

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