Wearside workers face an anxious wait over their employment futures after it was revealed that energy giant npower is planning to axe up to 2,500 jobs.
The grim news is set to be announced in the next few days by the German-owned company, which has a call centre at Rainton Bridge, in Houghton, which employs around 2,000 people.
The job cuts represent around a fifth of npower’s 11,500-strong UK workforce, and are expected to hit areas including the north of England.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “These huge job losses will come as a devastating blow to the workforce.
“Npower has been in trouble for some time thanks to poor decision-making at the very top, and workers are now paying the price.
“The company’s failure to invest properly in new systems has left it with one of the worst customer service records in the business.
“The news suggests that npower’s German owner isn’t terribly committed to its UK operations.
“Cutting a fifth of the workforce will leave the already struggling business in an even worse state.
“Now months of uncertainly lie ahead for a workforce whose morale is already at rock bottom.”
Eamon O’Hearn, of the GMB union, said: “Many hard-working staff have already been outsourced and so any further job losses for directly and indirectly employed staff would be another kick in the teeth for communities.
“It also makes a mockery of George Osborne’s rhetoric about a northern powerhouse if an energy company can’t maintain jobs in the region.”