A UNION says it has signed a “landmark” agreement to strengthen its voice at Nissan’s Sunderland car factory.

Unite says the deal will further improve relations between union officials and bosses at the Japanese manufacturer.

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said: “This is a landmark moment that significantly strengthens the union’s industrial voice within Nissan to the benefit of members.

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“Unite members at Sunderland are among the most efficient in the Nissan family, and this new agreement ensures all concerned can continue to enjoy positive industrial relations.”

Nissan earlier this week confirmed its near 7,000-job Wearside plant has started making a refreshed version of its all-electric Leaf hatchback.

Customers are expected to pick up the first models in February.

Bosses say the new Leaf can travel for longer, includes auto-parking technology and uses a one-pedal system aimed at helping motorists drive and brake seamlessly.

The Leaf was launched in 2011 and revised in 2013 when production started in the North-East, with a model of the car becoming the nine millionth vehicle to be made on the manufacturer’s Wearside lines since its factory’s 1986 opening.