CLEVELAND Bridge workers were told last night that 95 of them would lose their jobs and the rest have their hours reduced.

The Darlington engineering company announced the 65 blue collar and 30 white collar redundancies following talks with unions yesterday morning.

The company declined to confirm reports that remaining shop floor workers would, from Monday, work one week on, one week off, because of a lack of orders.

But union leaders told The Northern Echo that was the only option offered by Cleveland Bridge, and said workers would only receive about 25 to 30 per cent of their normal wage on the weeks they did not work.

Jimmy Skivington, of the GMB union, said: "We were not expecting any good news, but it took me by surprise - the numbers and the fact that the remaining employees are going on to short-time working.

"That is like a double whammy. We were told the short-time working was for an indefinite period."

The latest redundancies, coupled with job losses announced earlier in the year, will leave Cleveland Bridge with a shopfloor workforce of only 102.

Gerry Hunter, of the Amicus union, described it as nightmare news.

He said: "This is Cleveland Bridge at its lowest ebb for 40 years.

"We held a mass meeting with the lads there this morning and they were devastated. It is a double-edged sword and people were shocked."

The job losses follow an announcement on Monday by the company that it was stopping all work on the new Wembley Stadium and issuing legal proceedings against the site's main contractor, Multiplex.

Deputy managing director Brian Rogan said the company was trying to bring forward other projects to replace the lost Wembley work.

"There are technical and logistical reasons that make this difficult," he said.

"We had no other choice than to instigate legal action against Multiplex and we made this very tough decision for the benefit of the company as a whole, as we very much want this business to survive and continue to contribute as a significant member of the Darlington community."

Darlington MP Alan Milburn is due to hold talks with the company and unions today.

Multiplex rejected speculation that the dispute with Cleveland Bridge could lead to delays at Wembley.