Hitachi Rail Europe has confirmed more than 150 temporary workers won’t have their contracts renewed in December.
The train manufacturer, which opened its factory on Aycliffe Business Park three years ago, lost out on a contract to design and manufacture 94 Deep Tube trains to serve the London Underground’s Piccadilly line earlier this year.
Hitachi currently employs 750 permanent staff, with another 500 on fixed-term contracts.
“It was always in our plan to have a number of people on fixed term contracts to allow our business to flex according to demand,” said a spokeswoman for the firm.
“These fixed term contracts were until December 31. As we had two projects running concurrently we needed this extra support.”
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson – who successfully campaigned to bring Hitachi to Aycliffe – said the move was bad news, but we mustn’t let it deflect from the “tremendous” job Hitachi is doing for the region.
“Obviously it’s always hugely disappointing to see anyone lose their job, especially at that time of the year,” he told Aycliffe Today.
“But they’re employing more than a thousand people in Aycliffe and it’s estimated to support 6,000 jobs in the supply chain, the majority of which are in the North-East, so Hitachi is still a good news story for our region.
“I understand why they need fixed term contracts, it’s not uncommon in engineering and manufacturing, but I know they’re working tirelessly to win new contracts. They’ve missed out on a couple, but they can’t win them all.”
Mr Wilson has contacted the London mayor to ask why Transport for London snubbed Hitachi when giving the Tube deal to German firm Siemens.
“Missing out on the London Underground contract, to a firm which hasn’t even built its UK factory yet, doesn’t make any sense,” he added.
“I’ve written to Sadiq Khan to ask what their rationale behind that was, because in Hitachi and Bombardier we have two companies supporting thousands of British jobs today, they’re already geared up to do the work.
“Hitachi are also in the running for the Nexus contract, for the Tyne and Wear Metro. Surely they will award a contract in the North-East to the North-East.”
Hitachi remains in the running for a £2.75bn contract to make trains for the HS2 high speed rail scheme, as part of a joint bid with Bombardier, and has been shortlisted for the £500m Tyne and Wear Metro contract.