Thirty temporary positions have been axed from Europe's most productive car factory, but a further 470 workers could be laid off as output drops to below last year's record level of 327,000 units.
Currency issues and a slump in European car sales have been blamed for the reductions. A spokesman for Nissan Manufacturing (UK) said: “We have, on average, about 500 temporary workers at the plant and how many of them are laid off depends on what happens with the market.
“We had anticipated production of 320,000 cars in 2001, but it is now likely to be down on that.”
Sunderland was confirmed as the mother plant for the next generation Micra in January this year following European Union approval of a £40m government grant. The UK plant beat off group competition from Renault's Flins Clio factory, but Nissan has denied press speculation that the next Almera model will be built in the north-east.