THREE hundred people are to lose their jobs at a truck production plant.
The temporary workers, employed through an agency at Caterpillar, were yesterday told their final shift will be tomorrow.
Bosses at the Peterlee plant blamed the recession for the move, as well as the ongoing eurozone financial crisis and uncertainty over the U.S. economy.
Despite a good start to the year, demand for its vehicles and the growth of the economy is not what it had predicted. The job losses follow the departure of 70 other temporary workers at the end of last month.
“This is a devastating blow for the region,” said Steve Cason, of the union Unite.
“Anybody losing their job is also losing their spending power.
“We’re working alongside Caterpillar to look for opportunities to work together.”
The 300 workers at the North West Industrial Site will be paid one week’s wages.
Caterpillar said it is keeping its employment levels under constant review and will work hard to ensure permanent jobs are not lost.
The agency cuts leave the East Durham site with 1,013 staff.
Of those, 283 are salaried workers, 251 are hourly agency staff and 490 are hourly permanent staff.
A spokesman for the international firm said: “The economic and business environment that we are experiencing is different today from what we anticipated earlier in the year.
“After a good start to 2012 projected production volumes for our products are lower than we previously expected.
“Economic growth and demand from customers around the world has not reached anticipated levels.
“The ongoing Eurozone problems, and the looming financial uncertainty in the US have dampened business and consumer confidence.
“As a result of these factors, Caterpillar Peterlee is releasing approximately 300 temporary workers employed by Randstad, who previously performed roles throughout the factory.
“Caterpillar remains very positive about the long-term prospects for global growth and the activities described above are short term actions that are required to align production to current demand levels.”
He added that while the company’s overall business has been strong, producing vehicles which are used in the mining and rail industries among others, but that despite the good start to the year, the call for the trucks made at Peterlee had been less than it had expected.
In July, the firm announced £5million worth of investment would go in to the plant, along with plans to take on 100 workers.