A PORTLAND engineering company has become the latest victim of the recession at a cost of 45 jobs.

Staff at Ceewrite Engineering Ltd on the Tradecroft Industrial Estate were stunned by the shock announcement this week of their redundancies.

Dave Norster, who has worked at the aerospace engineering company for the past 42 years, said everyone was devastated by the news.

Three members of staff were also laid off at the company’s other premises at Three Legged Cross, near Ringwood.

Mr Norster, of Easton, Portland, said: “It was a shock – nobody knew it was coming.

“We had people coming around looking at things but they said they were refinancing. There was no notice at all.

“We’ve got to claim for statutory redundancy and notice of employment. People are upset – the firm’s been there a long time.

“In the current environment there’s not an awful lot of choice for other jobs.

“There are very few engineering jobs about at the moment and the future doesn’t look that bright.”

Mr Norster started at Ceewrite in May 1967 with a school apprenticeship and said although the company had been in receivership a couple of times he always continued his contract.

He said that recently the firm had been busy up until May then orders seemed to be ‘dropping off.’ He added: “As far as I know, the bank pulled the plug.

“They told us on Tuesday at noon that we had been made redundant and they would call back people if they were required.

“I’ll get nearly £10,000 and at my time of life I’ll use it as a bit of a break to take stock and see where to go next.

“But some of these young lads have got families to bring up and mortgages to pay.”

Mr Norster, who was an inspector on Ceewrite’s quality control team, said there were cutbacks by the company about a month ago prior to the 45 job losses this week.

He said three of the previous managers were trying to get Ceewrite off the ground and if they could get it going again, that could save about 22 jobs.

Geoff Franklin, one of the company’s van drivers, said he was keen to get his job back if possible and just had to ‘wait and see’.

He added: “You’ve got to feel sorry for the younger ones with mortgages and families.”

Derek Cooper, senior partner of Cooper Matthews Limited based in Leeds and Manchester, is handling the administration.

He said: “The company is in administration at present and some redundancies have occurred. But we’re looking to save jobs and re-employ people if we can find a potential buyer.”

TRADERS on Portland have described the loss of Ceewrite Engineering as a ‘major blow’ to the island.

Calvin Samways, managing director of Sea-NC Engineering Ltd at the Southwell Business Park, said: “It’s not good news at all.

“It’s a major blow for Portland because a lot of the people who worked there, live on the Island.

“Of course, in the current climate everybody’s in the same boat and the employees are going to struggle to get back in the same trade.

“If the skilled guys from Ceewrite go into other trades like painting and decorating, we’ve lost that skill which is not good.”

He added: “It’s devastating really, it’s a company that had such a nice workforce, really friendly people.

“Even though they were slightly competition we’re still sorry to see them go.

“I’ve heard that people have been in tears, I’ve got two friends who work there and they’ve got families and no income whatsoever.

“It’s all come out of the blue.

“They laid some staff off a month or so ago and had started to pick up in work but possibly the damage had already been done.”

Mr Samways said he wished all the employees who worked there the best for the future.

He added: “It’s good for companies like us because we can cherry-pick.

“We’ve had a few Ceewrites phone up but until things pick up we’ve got to keep overheads down and staff is a big overhead.”

Pete Bower, who owns a vehicle repair business nearby on the Tradecroft Industrial Estate said: “It’s a shame.

“We serviced their main vehicles once a month so naturally we’re going to lose work from them.

“We’ll also miss them in a sense because some of the lads used to bring their cars here as well.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of Ceewrite employees and they said it didn’t come as a total shock.

“It’s another sign of the times really.”

Mr Bower said his business, Pete Bower Motor Vehicles Repair Limited, was owed almost £400 from Ceewrite and he was hoping to get that back.

He added: “Of course there’s going to be a knock-on effect from them going.

“Most of their employees were from Portland, although a few were from Weymouth.

“It’s going to be hard for them to get back into work because all the big companies are cutting funds or laying people off.”