AROUND 500 workers are to be made redundant with the closure of a North East contact centre by insurance giant Direct Line Group.
The company, which is currently being hived off by partly state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, has revealed plans to shut its Stockton site and axe another 391 staff in the UK in an effort to save £100m by 2014.
Staff were stunned by the news which has been condemned as “devastating” and a “knife in the back of Teesside.”
One worker said: “They got everyone into a room this morning and said we were all being made redundant. We’ve been one of the best performing centres in the country. It’s shocking.”
Direct Line, which owns the Churchill and Green Flag brands and has 15,000 staff in the UK, said this week that its first half operating profits were 7% up to £224.2m and paid a £200m divided to RBS on top of a £800m payment earlier this year.
The news came two days after the company set out a target to boost returns for shareholders.
Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said: “This is a devastating blow to 500 workers and families on Teesside at a time when unemployment in our area is continuing to rise year on year and the number of new jobs created is comparatively small.
“It saddens me that this is yet another knife in the back of Teesside which seems to be an easy target for Government departments and others when it come to job losses.