Johnston Press to close Sunderland plant following NI contract loss
By Gordon Carson Friday, 21 September 2012
More than 80 jobs could be lost at Johnston Press's Sunderland printing plant after the newspaper publisher announced plans to close the site and transfer production to its Dinnington operation near Sheffield.
News International’s decision to terminate its long-term printing contract with Johnston and bring work in-house created spare capacity at Dinnington, the flagship £60m plant which opened in 2006.
David Crow, managing director for group services, print and logistics at Johnston, said the 81 staff at Sunderland had been offered the chance to move under TUPE to Dinnington, more than 120 miles away. A 30-day consultation started on 20 September.
The Sunderland Echo is among the titles printed at the Sunderland plant.
If the closure goes ahead as planned, Johnston will only have two printing plants in England, at Dinnington and Portsmouth, and one in Northern Ireland, at Carn, Portadown.
Steve Sibbald, national official for Unite, said the proposed closure of Sunderland had not come as a surprise to the union due to the spare capacity created by the loss of the NI work at Dinnington.
He said some staff, particularly younger, skilled workers, may opt to move to Dinnington because it could offer long-term employment. "The chances of them getting employed in the trade in Sunderland are pretty remote," he added.
The news comes two months after Johnston Press signed a deal to outsource half of its ad creation work to India.
In June it also announced the closure of its Peterborough printing plant with the loss of 35 jobs.
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