Japanese car-manufacturer Nissan is to make 1200 workers in the UK redundant as it continues to feel the squeeze from the global downturn.

The company said it was cutting 800 permanent staff at its plant in Sunderland, as well as 400 temporary staff whose contracts were not being renewed. The company currently employs around 6000 staff in the UK, 5000 of which are at the Sunderland plant.

Nissan said that in response to a 'dramatic decline' in customer demand at the end of 2008, the company had to take measures to adjust volumes.

It said it had therefore been forced to take action now to reduce its overall headcount by 1200.

Nissan's senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, Trevor Mann, said: 'Like all manufacturers, Sunderland Plant is currently operating in extraordinary circumstances not of our making. 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.'

The job cuts come after an industry trade body said earlier this week that car sales had fallen by more than 10% year on year.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said sales were down 11.3% in 2008, while they fell 21.2% in December alone, compared to 2007.

Elsewhere, Dell - the US computer manufacturer - announced job cuts in Ireland as it moves to cut costs in the face of the economic turmoil.