The future of a major South Tyneside engineering employer was today thrown into doubt after it confirmed it was reviewing its operations.
German-owned Siemens denied its Hebburn plant, which employs 432 people, was facing imminent closure.
But the company, which just two weeks ago announced over 170 job losses at the site, admitted it was examining its options.
Its announcement drew a quick response from Jarrow MP Stephen Hebburn.
He said he planned to urgently meet Siemens’ bosses to discuss the firm’s future in South Tyneside.
Mr Hepburn said: “Jobs are a number one priority for me, and any potential losses are of great concern, which is why I am in the process of organising a meeting with Siemens to discuss this matter face to face as soon as possible.”
In its statement, Siemens said: “We can confirm that a site review is being undertaken in the North East, which is yet to be concluded.
“Absolutely no decisions have been taken and won’t be without thorough consultation.
“Any changes to the site that stem from the review will be some time from implementation.
“It is incorrect to claim the site is at immediate risk of closure.”
The announcement was met with concern by South Tyneside councillor John McCabe, who represents the Hebburn south ward.
He said: “I fear it could be the beginning of the end, there is rarely smoke without fire.
“Whispers start out and there is usually truth in them.
“Every loss of a job is a tragedy for an individual and for their family, and jobs are very difficult to get and to sustain.
“Siemens has sustained jobs in Hebburn for many years, but it is owned by an overseas company which has little empathy for the people of South Tyneside.
“They will base their business case on pure facts rather than empathy.”
Earlier this month the international engineering giant twice announced job losses in the North East, where it employs 2,000 people.
It first confirmed 58 employees would go at its rail-related business in Hebburn, due to changes to the customer service side of the company.
A combined further 15 staff in Hebburn and Garforth, Leeds, will also go.
In the same statement, it also confirmed its Siemens Power Generation Services business in Newcastle was looking for applications for voluntary redundancy.
The firm said this followed significant market challenges and fundamental changes to the UK’s fossil-power generation market.
Days later, bosses confirmed another 113 people on temporary contracts in Hebburn would lose their jobs, due to several contracts ending.
However, they insisted they were working via a recruitment firm on time-specific projects, and that their work was being naturally wound down.