A CHEMICAL plant in Widnes is facing closure with the loss of 26 jobs.

Crunch talks are being held between unions and bosses at Thermphos Limited in Earle Road.

It follows the axeing of 69 jobs two years ago, when food phosphates were being produced cheaper overseas.

Workers who stayed on say they are feel ‘ ripped off’ as they fear they may not receive any redundany pay.

The parent company in Holland went into administration last autumn and is looking for a buyer.

Workers expect the site, formerly Albright & Wilson and then Rhodia, to close in two weeks.

Terry Mellor, senior organiser of the general, municipal and boilermakers union, said:”It is very sad that such a long established and successful chemical company providing high quality, skilled and well-paid jobs in the area finds itself in such a position.

“Our members in Widnes have been working hard over recent months not always knowing if they will be paid at the end of each month as cash flow has been controlled by the administrators in Holland.

“It had been hoped that a company from Kazakhastan would take over all of Thermos and continue to manufacture at Widnes and Oldbury in the West Midlands.

“Unfortunately, it looks llike this will not now happen as this company has pulled out and the new buyer doesn’t wish to run the company in the UK.”

GMB and Unite unions hope that agreement can be reached on severance without the need for the UK company to go into administration first. Otherwise, employees may have to claim unpaid wages and redundancy pay from the Government.

Paul Brennan, managing director of Thermphos UK, said: “The position with the company is very difficult. The parent company is in bankruptcy. We are still trying to discuss with potential buyers.

“We tried to do what we can to keep things going but it looks like we may have a buyer of the business, but not of the site.

“We are in consultation with our employees and trying to get them a redundancy payment.”

Thermphos International is one of the world’s largest largest producers of phosphorus, phosphoric acid, phosphates, phosphonates and phosphorus derivatives.