Up to 520 jobs in Sudbury could be at risk, after one of the biggest employers in the area announced it was considering the long-term future of its local plant.
Delphi Diesel Systems, which operates a manufacturing facility in Newton Road, confirmed on Friday that it was entering into formal consultations with its employees and their representatives, as the company reviews its current business strategy.
The engineering firm has seen its workforce in Sudbury decrease from a peak of approximately 800 employees since 2008.
A spokesman for Delphi said projections for a significant decline in the sales of diesel vehicles meant the company had to re-evaluate its manufacturing capacity for diesel engine components.
“There are several economic and business factors which have led Delphi to a review of its commercial vehicles diesel manufacturing strategy,” a statement read.
“Delphi is sensitive to the potential implications of this consultation and will work closely with worker representatives in order to reach a timely decision and to minimise any social impact.”
The Free Press understands that if the site shuts, about 20 per cent of staff will be offered jobs at other Delphi plants, such as Stonehouse in Gloucestershire, while others will be offered early retirement.
The consultation is due to last 45 days and will include representatives from the Unite union, which has said serious questions need to be asked as to why these jobs are under threat, as it believes the Sudbury plant is Delphi’s most profitable site in the UK.
Unite regional officer Neal Evans said: “This news is a cruel blow to the dedicated workforce and the local economy.
“Our view is that poor business decisions were made and now we have over 500 jobs in jeopardy.
“For example, work is being outsourced to Romania where, by the company’s own admission, it is struggling to complete the work already shipped out due to recruitment and retention issues.
“The site is competitive and we understand that it is making £1 million a month in profit. We will be calling on the employer to think more strategically, make a strong commitment to Sudbury’s future and rescind this flawed plan.”
James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk, said he had spoken with Delphi’s head of operations in the UK and EU, who confirmed no final decision has yet been made, and met with the Babergh economic development team on Monday to discuss options for helping at a district level.
“I was extremely disappointed to hear this news and sympathise with the staff at this worrying and uncertain time,” he said.
“Clearly, we must all hope that the consultation does not result in closure. However, the fact that closure may happen cannot be ignored and we have a duty to prepare for the worst.
“In particular, that means supporting employees in finding new opportunities.”
Mr Cartlidge added that, while there would be statutory measures to help those made redundant, he believed they should not rely solely on standard procedures.
He said: “Rather, we should look at what positive, proactive steps we can take in the local community to support Sudbury’s commercial offer and ensure that we can attract new investment to the town and its still thriving industrial sector.”