March 17, 2020 @ 16:27 by Richard Dawson
The North East’s largest company, Nissan Motor Corporation UK (NMUK), has suspended production at its plant in Sunderland today (March 17) as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
More than 7000 people currently work at the Sunderland plant, which builds the Japanese automotive giant’s cars and supports tens of thousands of jobs through its supply chains.
A spokesman from NMUK said that the company had taken the decision to halt the production line because of combined disruption to its global supply chains and a fall in market demand.
Both developments are taken to be a direct result of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has shattered the global economy since spreading around the world from China in January.
Other car manufacturers across Europe, including Vauxhall, Peugeot and Renault have already closed their plants to protect staff from contracting the virus.
The NMUK statement gave no indication as to when production might be expected to recommence, which is not surprising given that we are still trying to come to terms with what the impact of the pandemic will be.
Yesterday (March 16), the Government announced more serious social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus and it is widely expected that there will be more to come as the situation intensifies.
The Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, Sharon Hodgson, expressed her concern at the decision and called on the Government to do more to safeguard North East industries and businesses.
She said: “The news that Nissan UK has decided to suspend production at the plant in my constituency is extremely concerning and shows just how much of an impact coronavirus is having on our country.
“I will be writing to the Prime Minister this afternoon, urging him to take further action to safeguard industries and businesses that are already suffering as a result of the virus.
“Both he and the Chancellor need to urgently take steps to ensure that no businesses or individuals bear the brunt of this crisis.”