A TRUCK building firm has axed jobs as it battles against a drop in market demand.

Caterpillar, in Peterlee, east Durham, has confirmed staff cuts, citing difficulties in the industry.

The Northern Echo understands more than 110 jobs were at risk, including 70 production workers and 45 office staff.

Loading article content

Caterpillar have refused to reveal how many jobs have been lost.

It is believed the positions included welders, painters and inspectors.

The cuts were announced in October, a year after the firm axed 300 posts when it blamed a weak order book caused by fewer deals in the US and Eurozone.

A spokeswoman said: “Some transition is still ongoing following the voluntary severance programme, which resulted in a reduction of permanent staff and production employees at Peterlee.

“However, we are not revealing numbers of workers affected.”

The latest cuts mean the plant has moved from employing 1,000 staff to about 650 workers.

It is understood Caterpillar's sister factory, in Stockton, which makes parts for loaders and excavators, is not affected by the changes.

The company previously received a share of the Government's £120m Regional Growth Fund to help its expansion.

However, the spokeswoman previously told The Northern Echo it had to look at staff reductions due to a fall in demand.

She said: “As a consequence of the market conditions, the plant is operating at less than capacity and we expect demand will remain relatively flat year-on-year.

“We value our employees' contributions and these actions are not a reflection of them, but rather of the business climate.

“We intend to reduce the plant to reflect industry demand and compete in the long-term.”

Two years ago, Business Secretary, Dr Vince Cable, visited Caterpillar's Peterlee plant to launch the Energy Technologies Institute's £40m programme to improve vehicle efficiency, with the firm carrying out a £3m project to reduce CO2 emissions from heavy duty vehicles.