UNION leaders have called for reassurances from Nissan that working conditions at its Sunderland plant will not be compromised in a restructure announced this morning.

The Japanese car maker confirmed that its Sunderland plant will be maintained as a European manufacturing hub as it carries out a global restructuring amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It will close its factory in Barcelona with the loss of about 2,800 jobs after the firm plunged to a £5b net loss in the last financial year.

And while the news will be welcomed by thousands of workers in the North-East, officials at Unite say efficiency savings to be imposed at Sunderland must not include attacks on jobs, terms and conditions or other benefits.

The union is also calling for a government-led industry-wide recovery plan to prevent job losses taking place and skills being lost, and to assist the industry in meeting the climate change challenge.

Unite said the closure of Nissan’s site in Barcelona underscores the wider fragility of the sector, with the union expressing solidarity with colleagues in Spain.

Responding to Nissan’s announcement this morning, Unite national officer for automotive Steve Bush said: "Unite continues to push for sector level assistance from government to support the transition of our world class automotive industry in these unprecedented times.

"But that does not mean we will stand by as companies discuss detrimental measures in reaction to immediate and short-term challenges.

“We are seeking clear assurances from Nissan that the cost cutting measures spoken about will not impact on our members’ jobs, terms and conditions or other benefits at Europe’s most efficient plant, Sunderland.

“We have made it clear to Nissan that any attempt to do this will be fought by the union and a loyal, world class workforce. There needs to be a full consultation with Unite to ensure that any rationalisation or restructuring of the business is done in a way that protects jobs and the financial security of our members as well as the long-term future of the plant.

“The loss of the jobs of our Spanish colleagues is a regrettable reminder that automotive manufacturing is facing tremendous challenges.

"We send our solidarity to our colleagues in Barcelona and want to assure them that we will support all their efforts to defend their jobs.”