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car plant staff praised by union

prize guys ... Nissan boss Kevin Fitzpatrick, centre, celebrating the new Qashqais award success with the some of the staff at its Washington plant responsible for making it.

prize guys ... Nissan boss Kevin Fitzpatrick, centre, celebrating the new Qashqais award success with the some of the staff at its Washington plant responsible for making it.

UNION bosses are urging Nissan to give more recognition to the contribution of staff at its Washington plant after the new car they are building was named the best in Britain.

The Japanese firm is celebrating at the double after announcing this week that it built more than 500,000 cars on Wearside for the second year running in 2013 and having its new Qashqai named as car of the year at 2014’s What Car? awards ceremony.

Staff at the factory are in the final year of a two-year pay deal, and Unite will soon begin preparing its claim for January 2015. The union is calling on the company to give more recognition to the contribution its workers have made to its success.

National officer Tony Murphy said: “Building more than a million cars in two years is a sign of the company’s success, but also a sign of the phenomenal achievements of the workforce in Washington.

“Nissan must recognise the contribution of the workforce during the next set of pay negotiations.

“Nissan workers deserve a boost in their pay and conditions.

“The company says its workforce sets the benchmark for productivity and quality, so it is only right that their pay and conditions match their effort and expertise.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick, the firm’s vice-president for manufacturing in the UK, said: “Building more than a million cars in two years is a further sign of Nissan’s growing brand presence in one of the most competitive markets in Europe.

“Exceeding output of 500,000 units for a second year is an even greater achievement, given that we combined this high volume with starting production of the all-electric Nissan Leaf, along with the launch of the new Note and replacing the most popular car we have ever made with the new-generation Qashqai.”

The new model has a lot to live up to as more than 286,000 of the cars built in Washington last year were Qashqais, and the plant has now built 1,752,232 of the crossover vehicles since its launch in 2006.

The new Qashqai was also named best small sports utility vehicle at the What Car? awards.

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