Nissan slammed for causing Sunderland workforce 'great deal of anxiety' over X-Trail U-turn

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Union chiefs have slammed Nissan bosses for causing 'a great deal of anxiety' to its Sunderland workforce after its weekend announcement that it was scrapping plans to build the new X-Trail model at its Wearside plant.

Saturday brought intense speculation that the company was planning a U-turn on its 2016 announcement that the new model would be built at its North East base, which employs around 7,000 people.

The Japanese car giant confirmed the news yesterday, citing business reasons for the decision - but also admitting that uncertainty over Brexit was not helping it make long term plans.

Today Unite criticised Nissan for the way the announcement was handled, saying it had caused 'anger and disappointment' and also demanded assurances about the future of its Sunderland plant, which has been active since 1986.

The decision is another huge blow to the UK's car industry, which has been warning for years about the impact of Brexit uncertainty on top of other problems such as a slump in diesel sales.

After reports of the cancelled plans were leaked to the media on Saturday, Unite the Union has met with Nissan representatives this morning.

Nissan confirmed the X-Trail would not be built in Sunderland yesterday

Nissan confirmed the X-Trail would not be built in Sunderland yesterday

Read more: 'Our workforce in Sunderland has our full confidence' says Nissan as it reveals new X-Trail will be made in Japan

Unite acting national officer Steve Bush said: “Nissan were left in no doubt of our anger and disappointment over how the X-Trail announcement leaked to the media over the weekend. It has caused a great deal of anxiety among a workforce in one of the most efficient and productive Nissan factories in the world.

“We pressed for guarantees on jobs and future production levels at Sunderland and received firm assurances that the future production of the Juke and Qashqai is unaffected and this is solely an X-Trail decision.

“Unite will continue to press for further long-term guarantees over future investment and new models to secure the site’s future for generations to come.

Read more: 'Why is secret Brexit deal no longer good enough for Nissan?' ask Labour after X-Trail blow for Sunderland plant

“What this whole sorry saga shows is that the sector-wide uncertainty caused by Brexit urgently needs to be addressed by ministers because it is draining the industry of skills, investment and new jobs.

“The government also needs to get a grip and do more to support car workers and the industry in the transition away from diesel to alternatively powered vehicles.

“Trashing diesel while pulling the plug on grants which help people buy electric and alternatively powered vehicles, serves only to confuse customers and the industry. Government ministers need to be far more ambitious and invest more in electric charging infrastructure, research and development to ensure the UK car industry has a bright future.”

​Sunderland's Conservative group declined to comment on the announcement when contacted by the Echo.