THIRTY THREE jobs could be axed at Pilkington’s Watson Street site, the glassmaker announced tonight.

The company, owned by Japanese firm Nippon Sheet Glass, blamed a challenging global market for solar panels.

A voluntary redundancy window has been opened in an attempt to limit compulsory job losses.

In a statement Pilks said “the European solar sector in particular has been badly hit with a slowdown in growth, along with imports from low cost economies”.

It added that a voluntary redundancy programme had already been recently completed “in response to early indications of the market position”.

Pilks said this was “designed to provide a more competitive cost base with manning levels matched to full factory output”.

Watson Street’s solar product Pilkington Sunplus had enjoyed steady growth in sales of since 2006 but demand has slowed.

As a knock on effect of this that there is “now no prospect” of loading Watson Street to a full operation in 2013.

The statement continued: “The company is proposing to restructure operations to a single lehr operation and a meeting with site representatives was held on November 21 to start formal consultation on proposed reductions in manning by 33.

“A VR window at Watson Street is open to mitigate the effect of the proposed reductions.”