Nissan reaches out to BAE Systems as North East rallies support

Posted on 13 Jun 2012

Nissan Manufacturing UK in Sunderland will meet with BAE Systems Newcastle soon to discuss ways to help the company repurpose staff from its Newcastle-upon-Tyne factory, which is set to close at the end of 2013.

BAE Systems announced the planned closure of the Newcastle factory on May 31, with the loss of 330 jobs, citing the lack of orders for its main product, the Terrier armoured vehicle.

One of the region’s biggest employers, Nissan (NMUK) needs to recruit many engineering and maintenance positions at its Sunderland factory as it ramps up for new car models including the Invitation and Qashqai, and a new battery factory. The company is understood to be meeting representatives from BAE Systems in Newcastle in the next two weeks to discuss synergies for employment.

Earlier this week, the North East Chambers of Commerce told the BBC that there were up to “2,000 jobs in engineering in the region that could not be filled” owing to skills shortages. BAE Systems has been contacted by many local companies asking for details on the qualifications, experience and availability of labour who are likely to leave the Scotswood Road site next year.

A spokesman for BAE Systems said “We were surprised and moved by the number of organisations who’ve come forward to enquire about retaining the Newcastle talent.”

NMUK has had an extraordinary 18-months, winning the contract to manufacture Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicle, building a new battery factory, hitting record output and recruiting more staff and apprentices than at any time in recent years.

While total automotive production in the UK has cooled off in the last two months, as the economy has taken a dip, the factory still makes one in three cars manufactured in the UK.

NMUK is known to be urgently in need of production management, logistics, maintenance technicians and engineers.

Both BAE Systems and Nissan are founding members of the Government’s Talent Retention Scheme, launched in late 2010 to help companies reappropriate employees into with other firms when redundancies happen.

Yesterday, The Journal reported that Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah claimed that comments made by defence minister Peter Luff on Monday was an “implicit” attack on the workers who face losing their jobs at the Newcastle factory.

Mr Luff claimed that defence company BAE Systems was to blame for the job losses and the closure of the site because it was “uncompetitive” and failed to win key contracts.

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