Banknote firm De La Rue to cut 170 jobs in Gateshead
Banknote maker De La Rue has announced it is to cut 170 jobs at its factory.
The firm, which also prints passports, is axing the roles at its Team Valley plant in Gateshead.
It has held the contract to manufacture British passports since 2009, but last year the government awarded a £490m deal to Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto to make UK passports following Brexit.
The Unite union said that the decision "seriously undermined the financial viability of the Gateshead operation".
De La Rue employs about 600 people at the site. Some 170 jobs involving production of currency notes will be cut.
Announcing the job losses, De La Rue made no mention of the passport contract.
It said: "As the world's largest commercial banknote printer we regularly review our operational footprint to ensure it meets global demand.
"We are currently in the final stages of a footprint restructuring programme that was announced in 2015 to ensure our business continues to be competitive on a global scale.
"As part of that programme we are proposing to shut one of the print lines in Gateshead and are currently consulting with all parties concerned on this proposal."
The Unite union said losing the passport contract could have contributed to the move.
"The government's short-sighted and blinkered decision seriously undermined the financial viability of the Gateshead operation," said Unite national officer Louisa Bull.
The Home Office declined to comment on the firm's announcement.