THE closure of Electrolux’s North-East factory could put at least 1,500 indirect jobs under threat, unions warned last night.

The figure comes on top of the 500 Electrolux staff who face redundancy if the electrical goods company shuts its site in Spennymoor, County Durham.

A union leader has warned that if the multi-national turns its back on the region, following a review of operations at the factory, the knock-on effect will be felt throughout the region.

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Jeff Morland, of the Amicus section of Unite, said the jobs of suppliers and those working in transportation and warehousing would almost certainly come under threat.

It emerged earlier this month that Electrolux was reviewing the future of the Spennymoor site – which makes cookers – after being hit by global competition and falling prices.

Mr Morland said: “For every job there is at Electrolux, there are at least three more that depend on it. There is an infrastructure of warehousing, transport and suppliers who make glass panels and the metals that go into the manufacture of the cookers. There are a lot of people who would be affected.”

Electrolux is looking into the future viability of its Spennymoor site with a view to moving production elsewhere in Europe – such as Poland, where manufacturing costs are cheaper.

John Smith, who has worked at Electrolux in Spennymoor since 1967, said: “These are British cookers built by British workers for British homes.

It seems ludicrous to take the cooker manufacture to Poland and then ship them back to Britain.”

Mr Morland added: “Moving production would see a short-term gain for a few years – but Poland isn’t going to sit back and allow itself to be paid less than the rest of Europe.

“We expect that in ten years they will be somewhere up to the standards that we are – wage rates are going up every day.”

In the campaign to save Electrolux, Mr Smith and another colleague have travelled to Westminster and gained the support of North-East Minister Nick Brown and MPs Roberta Blackman-Woods (Durham), Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) and Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland).

Mr Smith said: “Every avenue is being sought to keep cooker manufacture at Spennymoor.

We need job protection from the Government and we need it now, or our 40 years and experience of cooker manufacture will be lost for ever.”

Mr Morland believes Electrolux has a strong future in the North-East and can benefit from plans by the Government to build tens of thousands of affordable houses over the next decade.

“Billions of pounds are being spent on affordable housing, and every house will have a kitchen that will need an in-built cooker.

“Electrolux should be tapping into that to make sure they get their products in there.”

Councillor Agnes Armstrong, Labour leader of Sedgefield Borough Council, said: “The problem is not just the factory, it is all the suppliers who will feel the knock-on effect if manufacturing stops.”

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