Hitachi’s County Durham plant is due to complete its £5.7billion contract to build new trains for the East Coast Mainline soon and has now started a 45-day consultation process which could see up to 250 employees leave the company.
But it has insisted it remains committed to the region and is making an £8.5million investment it says will put the factory on a long-term, sustainable footing.
The company said: “As part of this process, today we begin a 45-day consultation with employees at the factory, as well as the union Unite, about reducing the number of permanent staff. While this could see up to 250 employees leave the company, there may be opportunities for a number of staff to be redeployed to other parts of Hitachi’s rail business.
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“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.”
Unite regional officer Pat McCourt said: Unite regional officer Pat McCourt said: “The announcement of such large scale redundancies is bad news for the affected workers, their families and the local community.
“These redundancies need to be laid at the door of the government. Its existing procurement policies mean that major contracts for new trains are too readily awarded to overseas companies, depriving factories in the UK of work.
“If the government is serious about protecting jobs and skills going forward then procurement policies need to be radically reformed.
“Ensuring that future major train contracts are awarded in the UK will be an early test of the government and whether it is serious about backing UK manufacturing.”
Hitachi has been one of three companies bidding to build the new fleet for the Tyne and Wear Metro network.
A Nexus spokesman said of the news: “We have spoken to Hitachi today and we are assured that this is not linked to their bid to supply new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.”