Uncertain future for Sunderland Northern Rock workers as job cuts loom

Northern Rock insists it will be profitable.
Northern Rock insists it will be profitable.
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NORTHERN Rock workers were today facing an uncertain future after the bank announced it is to shut its mortgage office on Wearside.

Bosses at the nationalised lender say some members of the 100-strong workforce at in Doxford International Business Park, Sunderland, will be redeployed to its head office in Newcastle, but others will be made redundant.

Staff are now being consulted over the move, after which the scale of the cuts will become apparent.

The former building society was brought under public ownership in 2008 after it collapsed amid the credit crisis, sparking the first run on a UK bank for 150 years.

Last year, the Government split it in two, forming a mortgage and savings bank, Northern Rock, and Northern Rock Asset Management (NRAM) to house the more “toxic” loans.

The closure of the local mortgage operation, run by Northern Rock, is expected to be completed in the coming months.

A total of 590 debt management staff based with NRAM will remain at the site.

A spokeswoman for Northern Rock said the closure was part a restructuring programme, announced earlier this year, with 680 positions across the company expected to go.

“As announced in March 2011, Northern Rock has begun a process to right-size the business and is currently in consultation with a view to reducing up to 680 roles.

“This process is ongoing and these changes will include the company exiting from its premises at Doxford Business Park in Sunderland, where we currently have only a limited presence.

“Wherever possible, we are redeploying personnel to our Gosforth site and we also aim to minimise compulsory redundancies wherever possible.

“As consultation is ongoing, I am unable to provide further detail at this time.”

Last year, about 650 jobs were lost at Northern Rock. Union Unite said that in 2007 it employed around 6,500 staff.

The latest announcement takes the head count to fewer than 2,000.

Speaking at the time, David Fleming, the union’s national officer, said: “Another round of brutal job cuts is simply a step too far for this workforce that has already lost a third of colleagues.

“We are witnessing another move to scale back this already lean organisation, in a desperate bid to find a private buyer.”