Nissan pays off 250 as car exports collapse

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The Independent Online
ABOUT 250 workers left the Nissan car plant in Sunderland yesterday with six months' pay in their pockets as the company's 'agreed severance' scheme came into effect.

About 600 of Nissan's 4,600 employees are expected to take advantage of the scheme and leave by the end of January at a cost to the Japanese car maker of pounds 4.5m.

The remaining 4,000 staff will return to near-normal working at the beginning of March when the Sunderland plant goes back to five day shifts and three night shifts a week.

The cutbacks have been forced on Nissan by the collapse in its continental export markets. Next year Sunderland is expected to produce only 200,000 Primeras and Micras compared with the planned level of 270,000.

A Nissan spokesman declined to say whether the agreed severance scheme had been oversubscribed. However, a number of employees who applied, mostly administrative and skilled engineering staff, were turned down.

'The scheme has run smoothly on the shop floor but in the offices, where there are people with key skills that we need to retain, we have had to say no,' he added. The average pay-off for manufacturing staff is pounds 7,500 although more experienced employees will leave with more. Those taking advantage of the scheme will be eligible to reapply for jobs at Sunderland if the market picks up.

Nissan is planning to export about 75 per cent of production this year but much will depend on how demand fares in Germany, its biggest European market.