North East hit by 5 000 job losses

The North East has seen 5,000 people lose their jobs this quarter, a rise of 8.4 per cent.

Many of the job losses came from large manufacturing plants - such as Sunderland's Nissan factory - shedding jobs due to a slump in demand.

One thousand two hundred jobs were lost from the carmaker's site – almost one in four – in January, after a huge downturn in car sales.

But smaller firms like NSK Bearings in Peterlee, Portakabin in York and Sitel in Newcastle have also announced they are shedding staff, with at least 260 jobs at risk.

Sitel, which provides customer care and back-office functions for other firms, said 220 people would be made redundant when it closes offices in Newcastle and Derby.

Andy Kerr, deputy general secretary for the Communication Workers Union said the job losses were "a sign of difficult times".

"It comes as a great blow to the workers at these sites who are a dedicated and hard-working group of staff," he said.

"We will be in full consultation with the company regarding the impact on staff and will do everything possible to protect jobs."

A Communication Workers Union spokesman added: "These are very difficult economic times, that are starting to crunch for people."

But James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, pointed to 1,001,054 people in the region who were still in work. "We are close to our all time record high in employment," he said.

"Clearly these figures aren't great, but too many people look at the percentage rise. We have historically had a lower base to start with.

"What we need is confidence. What worries me is that too many people are talking the economy down. Some businesses here are doing really well."

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