Staff at Sunderland’s Nissan factory are in no doubt about the importance of winning the rights to build two new models on Wearside.
“It’s great news not just for the plant but for the whole North East,” said paint sprayer Mark Holder. “It is job security for at least the next 10 years.”
There had been fears the plant might lose out as a result of the vote to leave the EU - and a decision had not been expected until next month.
But the company unexpectedly announced on Wednesday that the plant would be building both a third version of the Qashai and a new X-Trail, securing 7,000 jobs at the Sunderland factory.
Thirty-nine-year-old Mark, originally from Sunderland and now living in Newcastle, and partner Rebecca welcomed son Rocco just four months ago: “It’s important for everyone, I think, but especially people with families,” said Mark.
“It brings job security and we don’t need to worry about anything really. For people who have been here a long time, this will take them through to retirement.”
It is job security for at least the next 10 years.Mark Holder
Staff had been taken by surprise by Wednesday’s announcement: “It was about quarter past 11 that we had the briefing,” he said.
“The mood was really good all over the factory.”
Mark, a paint sprayer in the Trim and Chassis section of the plant’s Line One who has worked at Nissan for seven years, said he had been in little doubt that plant would be successful in its bid to build the new Qashqai.
“I didn’t know what other people’s mood was but I was never really worried,” he said.
“Nissan is a massive company - they always find ways to get around things.”
Wednesday’s announcement was doubly good news for 22-year-old Conner Pollard, with two generations of the family working at Nissan. Conner, from Sunderland, is a supervisor in the Trim and Chassis section, while dad Ian is a senior supervisor in the Unit Shop.
“It is the only job I have ever had,” said Conner, who joined Nissan four years ago straight from Sunderland College.
He had also been sure the plant’s reputation for quality and productivity would be enough to guarantee its long-term future.
“I was not worried but it is very happy news,” he said.
“I was pretty confident. We all know we build good cars here in Sunderland - we get praised for it all the time.
“It was just a case of ‘keep doing what we do and hopefully we will get rewarded’ - which we have.”
This week’s news will also help to secure more than 20,000 jobs in the Nissan plant’s supply chain, much of which is based in the North East.
Former SSI steelworker Paul Maven, 36, from Monkwearmouth, works at Nissan supplier Johnson Controls.
Wife Anna, 38, said the couple had turned their lives around since Paul lost his job but had feared lightning might strike twice: “We were building ourselves up for the worst. We can finally breath a little bit easier,” she said.
“We thought the automotive industry could be next and it’s not.”
Anna, a student teacher from Monkwearmouth, said: “I am delighted with the news, it means Paul’s job is secure. He is happy.”
The couple have two daughters, five-year-old Honor, and Monica, three.
“It is a real weight lifted off our shoulders, along with all those other families in the region,” said Anna.
“It’s a good thing for the city and it’s good all-round.”