Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

170 Workers Hit by Caterpillar Axe

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

170 Workers Hit by Caterpillar Axe

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter McCusker

CATERPILLAR is to axe 170 workers in the North East just months after making more than 130 staff redundant.

The US-based multinational truck maker yesterday blamed the economic slowdown for plans to shed more staff from its plant on the North West Industrial Estate in Peterlee.

This follows the loss of a 58 workers from the same site in June and the axing of 75 jobs at its sister fabrication facility in Stockton the same month.

And it is another blow for the county which appears to be suffering more from the economic downturn and credit crunch than the rest of the North East. Figures last week showed County Durham has seen a 20.8% increase in claimants for Jobseekers Allowance in the last year, well above the 11.1% increase for the rest of the region.

Caterpillar managing director Eric Lepine, said: "This is a very painful and regrettable decision that will affect 170 families and we have really tried everything we could to avoid making it."

A company spokesman had explained jobs were being lost at the company "as a result of a re-evaluation of market conditions and production levels. Our previously very positive expectations have started to shift in the light of world financial events and a general softening in the European residential construction market."

Caterpillar had announced earlier in the year that it was expecting to increase the North East workforce in anticipation of a growth in the number of contracts. It has since confirmed there will be no expansion.

All of the 300-plus workers who have been affected are agency workers.

Caterpillar continues to employ more than 1,000 people at Peterlee and a further 200 at Stockton.

Stewart Watkins, managing director of the County Durham Development Company, said: "Caterpillar has been a fantastic advocate for the region for decades and will continue to be so. …

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