PRINTED circuit board manufacturer Viasystems yesterday announced 210 redundancies at its plants in Selkirk and Galashiels. And it is believed there could be more cuts to come for the workforce of l200.

The blow to the biggest private employer in the Borders follows international reorganisation by the US multinational which took over the firm - formerly known as Exacta - last year.

Falling demand in the international semi-conductor market, with which printed circuit board output is closely related, is also blamed.

Exacta had profits of #6.8m in 1996-97 and is one of five European companies acquired by Via-systems, which has its headquarters in St Louis, Missouri, and owns 75% of the world's printed circuit board manufacturing capacity.

Unions yesterday expressed concern that company strategy was now driven from America, taking the fate of the former Exacta largely out of the hands of its Scottish management.

Local business leaders have protested to Locate in Scotland that #12m in grant aid given to the ISL plant on Tyneside, also bought by Viasystems last year, had drawn work away from the Borders Viasystems operation.

Viasystems denied this yesterday and pointed out that the Borders operation would now be in a separate division to ISL. It was confirmed, however, that there would be no job losses on Tyneside.

Viasystems' European president, Ron Hull, said: ''Our restructuring is designed to realign our newly-combined platform of European companies into a single market-driven, customer-focused company. This process logically required some consolidation of operations.

''The Borders facility will be one of three Viasystems plants in the newly formed Technology Products group supplying high-end, multilayer printed circuit boards and backplates for use in telecommunications, datacom and computer equipment systems.''

Other newly acquired Viasystems plants in Europe are in Spain, Holland and Sweden.

The job losses are a further setback to the economy of the Borders, coming in a high-technology sector which has been regarded as an example of how to diversify from the region's traditional textile industry. The latter is beset by redundancies and sales problems caused by the strength of the pound in export markets.

Borders MP Michael Moore said last night: ''This is a bitter blow. The future of the remainder of the company's operations is also critical, and I am meeting with senior management as soon as possible.

''I am seeking an urgent meeting with Industry Minister Brian Wilson to push him on plans to assist the Borders.''

Unions meet management today to discuss the detail of the redundancies.

Some small comfort was being drawn yesterday from confirmation that a #10m investment programme will continue at Selkirk and Galashiels, but recruitment linked to expansion has been frozen.