Easington’s MP has vowed to fight for the workers of Walkers after the announcement 380 staff could lose their jobs with the proposed closure of its Peterlee factory.
Labour’s Grahame Morris has called on the company, which is owned by Pepsi Co, to release more details about its plans as he works to support them.
His comments come as a petition was launched calling on the firm to keep the site running.
Mr Morris called the decision a “really bitter blow” in a tweet and added in a statement: “This is terrible news for manufacturing in East Durham, with the loss of 380 jobs.
“At this time, my thoughts are with the Walkers staff and their families.
“In the days ahead, I will be discussing these job losses with Walkers, trade union representatives and Officers from Jobcentre Plus to ensure all employees are provided with the support they need to find alternative employment.
“It would also be helpful if Walkers could provide more information regarding their decision in order that we can take the necessary steps to ensure East Durham is a competitive manufacturing area able to retain and expand job opportunities.”
Those facing the lose of their jobs are 355, plus 25 HGV drivers.
The GMB has said the staff who work on the production line will include frontline operatives, team leaders, cleaners, maintenance workers and canteen staff.
The factory, on the North East Industrial Estate, has been running for decades.
At this time, my thoughts are with the Walkers staff and their families.Grahame Morris
Horden Parish Councillor Darren Meadows, recently elected as a Labour member to the authority, has launched the online petition calling for the company to rethink the proposals.
Within minutes it had attracted more than 30 names.
It states: “As the North East is one of the most unemployed areas in the country, an additional loss of around 400 jobs, on top of the jobs lost last year from steel works closures, would be a massive loss to the area and would also see a number of families left without an income.”
Councillor Mary Cartwright, Peterlee’s mayor and chairman of its town council, represents the Edenhill Ward and is a member of the North East Party.
She said: “Peterlee Town Council is disappointed and saddened by the news that Pepsi Co is considering closure of Walkers crisp factory in Peterlee at the end of 2017.
“This is the first that we have heard of the proposals.
“We’re currently gathering as much information as possible from Pepsi Co about the details behind the announcement, and we are working closely with Business Durham, the county council and other partners to minimise the impact on local people, and make the most of the opportunities for training and employment that are available in the area, if the proposals go ahead.
The petition can be found via: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-walkers-at-peterlee-open
*Are you facing redundancy as a result of the plans or would you like to share your views on the proposal?
Call 0191 501 7136 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.