MORE than 100 clothing firm jobs look set to be lost after union officials admitted the future “doesn’t look hopeful”.
The Hartlepool Mail reported last month that jobs were at risk at the Dewhirst factories in Peterlee after major client Marks & Spencer looked to cut it out of its supply chain.
Today, officials from the GMB union said starkly that the two sites, at Whitehouse Way and Stephenson Road, in Peterlee, plus one in Hendon in Sunderland, could soon close.
GMB regional organiser Chris Preston, who met with Dewhirst bosses last week, said: “We are still in the consultation period, but as it stands, unless something changes, the Hendon and Whitehouse Way sites will close by the end of the year and the Stephenson Road site will probably close by early 2014.
“The upshot is there’s still lots of talking to be done.
“It doesn’t look hopeful at this point in time.
“However, discussions are ongoing with Dewhirst.”
Mr Preston said the GMB is in talks with the companies as to whether it was in Marks & Spencers’ best interests “to do what they are doing”, but added it was ultimately a conversation between Marks & Spencer and Dewhirst rather than the union.
Mr Preston said: “The chances of saving the sites are looking slimmer than they were.
“Decisions need to be taken sooner rather than later.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris said: “I think it’s l Turn to Page 2
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hugely disappointing and it fuels my concern that we are haemorrhaging job losses from the private sector in east Durham.
“Welcome though the announcement of Nissan’s expansion is, we are losing jobs faster than we can replace them.
“Dewhirst is long-established in east Durham and employed thousands of people in its heyday.
“It’s a very sad day when Dewhirst are announcing the closure of their remaining factories in the North East.”
He said he would offer support to the workforce and make representations to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to get some sort of “task-force” together to look at employment options.
A Dewhirst spokesman said: “The union has given a very clear picture in terms of where we are.”
The Mail reported last month that Marks & Spencer, which has worked with Dewhirst for 128 years, planned to have goods shipped direct from Dewhirst’s overseas factories, including in Cambodia and Indonesia, rather than from the east Durham warehouses.