WORKERS facing the axe at a South Tyneside chemical plant will receive help, Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn pledged today.
More than 50 staff at Rohm and Haas in Jarrow, have been told by owners, the Dow Chemical Company, the plant is set to close within 18 months.
Closure will mark the end of the site as a chemical production base after more than 50 years.
Mr Hepburn admitted the closure plans, revealed by the Gazette last week, pictured right, came as “a shock.”
However, he promised to do all he can to help workers facing redundancy at the plant, in Ellison Street, which could close by the end of 2015.
Mr Hepburn said: “I didn’t know about the plans to close the plant down.
“But I will be contacting the council and the relevant council bodies or development agencies, to try and get some help for people affected by the closure.
“Dow is a massive, multi-national company and the plant has been part of the town for 50 years. The Jarrow site has been a major profit-maker for Rohm and Haas over many years, and I think the company owes something to its employees and the people of the town.
“I will be pressing for whatever help we can bring to those affected by the closure of the plant.”
After a review, a spokesman for Dow said “the Jarrow site will be unable to meet the future, long-term needs of the business.”
The company spokesman added: “The proposed transition of manufacturing out from the Jarrow facility is expected to take place over the next 12 to 18 months.”
Union leaders have speculated the work will be transferred from the Jarrow plant to China.
Rohm and Haas used to employ more than 200 people at its Jarrow plant a dozen years ago, but that figure has gradually come down, as a result of production changes and work being shifted abroad.
The plant marked its 50th anniversary in 2005, but just a few months later, in early 2006, the company announced that a third of its 142-strong workforce faced the axe, as part of plans to move operations to China.
However, Dow say the Jarrow plant will remain “fully operational” until the transfer of work is completed.