UP TO 375 call centre workers have voted to take wage cuts in order to safeguard the long-term future of their jobs.

Staff at npower sites in Thornaby and the Team Valley, Gateshead, will suffer pay reductions averaging five per cent, but some better-paid employees will see salary cuts of 18 per cent, if the offer is accepted.

Union officials have negotiated compensation payments for staff facing wage reductions. A further 375 workers have agreed to a pay freeze.

Npower will now decide if the offer is enough to keep the two centres viable.

A meeting is to be held tonight between the company and union representatives to set out the staff position and to set a timetable for when the pay implications will be enforced.

Npower carried out a review on three North-East sites, including Carliol House in Newcastle, the results of which were revealed last August.

The report indicated a future for Thornaby and Team Valley - although 25 per cent cost reductions were needed - but npower's Carliol House operation is to close sometime in the future.

Tom Ross, regional industrial organiser with the GMB union, said the staff had voted pragmatically. "They are basically buying their long-term future," he said.

Eighty per cent of workers took part in a ballot on the pay issues, two-thirds voted in favour of the proposed freezes and cuts.