FURTHER jobs are at risk with the threat of a crisp factory’s closure, a union has warned.

PepsiCo announced last week it plans to shut its Walkers plant in Peterlee, County Durham, on New Year’s Eve, affecting around 380 workers.

It has now emerged the jobs of around 150 agency staff are also at risk.

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GMB regional organiser Michael Hunt said he was told by one agency worker that there are around 150 working at the factory but he is expecting to confirm how many will be affected tomorrow (Monday, March 5).

Consultation meetings between the company and union are due to start this week.

Mr Hunt said: “It’s quiet at the moment, We’re waiting for some detail from them.

“I would like to understand their rationale in closing the site. I’ve asked for their business plan and why they chose the Peterlee site for closure.”

When announcing the closure, PepsiCo said the move would improve productivity and deliver savings.

Mr Hunt said: “I’ve been told that 80 per cent of product goes south. They have a number of other sites in the south and I’ve asked if any of their product comes north.”

The company says 380 workers could be affected by the closure, including 355 manufacturing staff and 25 drivers.

Almost 2,000 people have signed a petition calling for PepsiCo to rethink their decision.

Horden parish councillor Darren Meadows launched it last week, saying it would be a "massive loss" to the area.

He added: “This came as a major shock. There are always rumours not matter what factory you’re in but until it was announced at 9.15am on March 1 there was no consultation or with the trade union about what our members are looking at.

“People are still reeling over the announcement. There’s a range of emotions from anger to disbelief.”