OFFICIALS are battling to save jobs in east Cleveland, which has been hit by a double jobs blow this week after two firms annnounced cuts.

Nearly 300 redundancy notices have been issued to employees working for two firms on the same industrial estate within days of each other.

Council officials are working to head off threatened jobs losses at Texon UK and workwear rental firm Hirelin, both on the Skelton Industrial Estate.

Officials from the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) yesterday met with the management of Texon UK, which could close down its plant with the loss of 234 jobs.

The firm, which makes components for the shoe industry, has issued 90-day redundancy notices.

A spokesman for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: "We are looking to see how we can assist the company or the workers who may be made redundant to try and find alternative employment.

"We have been trying to make contact with Texon and are liaising with other agencies.''

He said development staff were also talking to Hirelin, which was bought 18 months ago by the Johnsons cleaners group.

It plans to transfer 90 per cent of the work carried out at Skelton to its main North-East plant in Gateshead.

Regional director Derek Munt said: "Obviously, it is very regrettable. One has to look at costs. The economy at the moment does not help and we have certainly to tighten our belts.''

He said the company was working with the council to find alternative work for its 38 Skelton employees, only six of which will be kept on.

The council gave Texon UK a £20,000 grant in 1996, in addition to a £900,000 Government grant the same year.

Tim Bush, regional organiser for the TGWU, met Texon management yesterday in a bid to head off the job losses.

He said: "It is 234 jobs in east Cleveland where jobs are not easy to come by.''

Texon declined to comment yesterday or elaborate on an earlier statement which said it has entered a consultation period with all employees about restructuring plans.

The statement said: "This restructuring could result in the closure of manufacturing plants at Skelton, Leicester and Kettering, with the loss of up to 458 jobs."