• Our reporter Amy Lea has the latest

Two thousand jobs could be at risk in Sunderland, just weeks before Christmas.

Energy giant Npower has announced plans to restructure its UK business, which union sources fear will lead to the loss of up to 4,500 jobs and the closure of a number of call centres.

The firm employs 2,000 staff at their call centre in Houghton-le-Spring.

It's understood workers will be given details at briefings later on Friday.

The news was described as a “body blow” by one union official, especially coming just weeks before Christmas.

Chris Jukes from GMB Union Northern Region confirmed they are doing 'all they can' to support staff at Npower in Houghton le Spring, Sunderland. Today he said, "There is some real trauma in that building behind me".

Clearly this announcement will be a body blow to Npower workers across the UK.

GMB Union Spokesperson

Jonathan Walker, assistant director of policy, North East England Chamber of Commerce said:

While it wouldn’t be fair comment too much on speculation, our contact centres are an important part of the North East economy and is a sector in which we excel.

North East England Chamber of Commerce
Npower’s owners E.ON said it is in discussion with British unions Credit: PA

E.ON, the owner of Npower, said it was stepping up its "ambitious cost-cutting efforts" without losing sight of its customers, adding: "This is based on leaner, increasingly digital processes that also improve the customer experience."

An E.ON spokesman said: "It is only right and fair that colleagues are informed first of any possible changes and we will be making no further comment at this time."

The proposals we’ve outlined today are in no way a reflection of Npower’s people, who I know work hard to serve customers each and every day.

E.ON UK Chief Executive Michael Lewis