Caterpillar job losses “a bitter blow” - MP

The Peterlee Caterpillar factory.
The Peterlee Caterpillar factory.

AN MP has called the loss of 300 jobs from a truck plant a “bitter blow” for the area’s families.

The temporary workers, employed through an agency at Caterpillar, were told on Thursday that they had only one more shift left to work.

Bosses at the Peterlee plant blamed the recession for the move, as well as the ongoing Eurozone financial crisis and uncertainty over the United States economy.

Easington MP Grahame Morris said: “This is a bitter blow for the 300 people losing their jobs in Peterlee, all of whom will have financial commitments and families to support.

“Caterpillar is one of our most important employers in East Durham. When redundancies are announced on this scale it has a knock on effect on other business in the area and depresses demand in the local economy because of the loss of spending power.

“Caterpillar’s latest generation of articulated trucks are exported all over the world and so it is deeply disappointing that the fall in export orders coincides with a fall in domestic business and consumer confidence.

“My view is that Government must take a lead in supporting manufacturing businesses and stimulating demand for example by bringing forward new infrastructure investment projects.”

Despite a good start to the year for Caterpillar, 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.