Car firm Nissan has taken the "unavoidable decision" to axe 1,200 jobs at its Sunderland production plant, as its car sales slump a further 26%.
The car giant employs around 5,000 staff at the North East plant, which is the biggest car factory in the UK and the most productive per employee in Europe. Up to 400 temporary staff will be lost immediately, and many shifts will be cut.
Trevor Mann, Nissan's senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, said that the firm had to make "tough decisions".
He added: "It is essential we take the right action now to ensure we are in a strong and viable position once business conditions return to normal.
"Unavoidably, this means we have had to make some very tough decisions in recent weeks. However, by doing so, we are helping to safeguard our long-term future."
Nissan sales for December 2008 fell 26.68% compared with the same month in 2007. The firm will now be working towards 2010 when a new model rolls off the plant's production lines, Mr Mann said.
The cuts follow increasing pleas from the motor industry for Government action to boost the availability of credit for consumers as well as firms.
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