Hitachi plant in County Durham to make 250 redundancies
The Newton Aycliffe Hitachi plant in County Durham is set to cut 250 jobs, which Unite trade union officials say has come “completely out of the blue”.
The train making factory employs around 900 people and has been open since 2015.
Hitachi say that consultation with staff was under way and was working with Unite and other local business bodies, adding that the workforce would be “resized to a team of skilled, core full-time employees” and a number of staff may be redeployed to other parts of the business.
The firm adds that the cuts will allow it to deliver on its projects but also offers “flexibility to be scaled-up with staff on fixed-term contracts according to order demand”.
The plant won a £350 million contract as recently as December to provide 23, 125 miles per hour intercity trains for Avanti West Coast.
Hitachi’s statement says: "Hitachi has a proud record investing in developing and training its people.
"While it is disappointing to be reducing jobs at Newton Aycliffe, if demand increases in the future there may be opportunities for rehiring.”
Sedgefield’s newly-elected Conservative MP, Paul Howell, posted on Facebook that he would be meeting with Hitachi for further discussion next week having been "personally assured that Hitachi Rail remains completely committed to Newton Aycliffe, the North East and the UK".
Howell’s post added: "At this stage it is a consultation and I am assured that Hitachi will work with all parties to look at opportunities to mitigate the impact to employees."
Unite union's Pat McCourt said: "It [the redundancies] represents the loss of almost a quarter of the workforce, and is particularly bad timing coming on the back of Christmas when waiting for bills to drop through the letterbox. This is not about Hitachi or the world-class facility we have here, it's all about the government's procurement strategy.
"This means UK-based manufacturers are at a disadvantage when tendering for contracts, and they're going abroad. We need to see the newly-elected government - and the newly-elected MPs - stepping up to protect UK manufacturing.”