MORE than 50 Electrolux workers in the region are to lose their jobs, it was revealed yesterday.

Employees were told that the Swedish-owned company, in Spennymoor, County Durham, is to shed staff at the plant.

The company, which makes cookers at the factory on Merrington Lane Trading Estate and is the world's largest maker of home appliances, made the cuts after assessing future workloads and balance of labour.

It is due to release a statement later today.

An employee told The Northern Echo that more than 50 permanent staff had been told the news, following a series of meetings between senior management yesterday morning.

The man, who asked not to be named, said: "We were told that there will be redundancies at the factory and 50-plus were mentioned.

"They have been taking volunteers and there's lots of rumours going around about jobs possibly going to Poland."

The Spennymoor site employs about 600 workers and is one of two Electrolux factories in the region - another produces lawn and garden products in nearby Newton Aycliffe.

It is one of the town's largest and longest-established employers, although a refrigeration section at the factory closed in 1998.

In June, the site received a multi-million pound investment to produce a new range of cookers in the UK.

About £7m was poured into the plant after a review by Electrolux of its European operations.

Gerry Hunter, from the Amicus union, which represents most of the workers, said: "We have been told that there will be around 50 redundancies, and they are permanent ones.

"We are very disappointed. We'll be arranging a meeting and consultations and, hopefully, we can placate these redundancies.

"But it's such a blow, especially over the festive period."

The Northern Echo understands that an HR1 notification form, giving notice of the redundancies, has been submitted to the Secretary of State. The form is necessary when more than 20 people are to lose their jobs.

The redundancies come only days after Vetroprint Limited, on the same industrial estate, went into receivership with the loss of 100 jobs.

Meanwhile, the UK is said by the British Chambers of Commerce to be facing a manufacturing recession.

The business group warned this week of more job losses in the sector, with factories responsible for only 15 per cent of national output, compared with 20 per cent in 1998.