Plan to save more than 200 North East jobs rejected

AEI Cables in Birtley. Picture from Google Images.

AEI Cables in Birtley. Picture from Google Images.

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A plan to save a North East manufacturing plant which employs more than 200 people has been rejected.

Birtley-based cable manufacturer AEI Cables, which started a consultation period over its future in September, announced today that its parent company has not approved a restructuring plan proposed by management.

The company has held meetings to inform all employees and their representatives that there are still three remaining options for the plant.

A spokesman said: "We have been working with the trade unions and employee representatives to develop a restructuring plan to gain the ongoing financial backing of the Ducab board.

"This plan was discussed at length and unfortunately the shareholder is unable to give support to the proposal because of the level of investment required."

The company, which employs 240 people, is now considering the three options: selling the business as a going concern; operating as a sales and distribution centre with the loss of manufacturing or site closure as a last resort.

A specialist is continuing to have discussions with interested parties about the sale of the business.

The company started formal consultation during September and said today this will continue while there are still options to consider.

AEI Cables is reassuring customers that business will continue as normal and that all orders will be fulfilled for now and the foreseeable future.

This is the second time in little more than two years the site has been under threat. The firm was saved when it was taken over by a Middle East-based cable firm Ducab in March 2014.

GMB spokesman Tom Allison said that when the firm collapsed two years ago, the redundancy bill had to be picked up buy the taxpayer. Staff were concerned the same would happen again if the worst came to the worst.

"Questions have been asked 'will you pay redundancy?' and the company was unwilling to commit to that, which has left people angry and uncertain," he said.

"We are trying to get them to reassure the employees and relieve some uncertainty."