GREATER Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham, local MPs, unions and Oldham Council have met before weighing in with their reaction in the wake of the shock announcement at Shop Direct.

A joint statement has been issued by - among others - Mr Burnham, Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams, Oldham West MP Jim McMahon and Oldham Council leader Cllr Jean Stretton.

Several Usdaw union officials including divisional organiser Mike Aylward are also named.

Their joint statement conveyed their "disappointment" that they had no prior notice of the announcement.

It also calls on Shop Direct to reconsider its decision, relocating to a sites elsewhere in the city region.

"Oldham Co8uncil tabled alternative proposals of a site of a similar size, accompanied by a favourable business package at Broadway Green, Chadderton," it said.

"Regrettably, it quickly became apparent that Shop Direct have committed to their East Midlands site and their plan of a staged transition starting in two years' time."

Given that the company appears to have made the decision, the meeting looked into getting the best possible support for the workforce, and securing a future for the sites affected.

Abrahams, whose constituency covers Shop Direct's Shaw facility, was particularly critical of the company for not discussing the imminent announcement with herself of Oldham Council ahead of its decision.

She said: “This is devastating news for the Shop Direct staff and their families and the anticipated redundancies will have a dreadful effect on the local community.

“I'm bitterly disappointed that Shop Direct failed to engage with the council or myself before this morning about their plans to move to the East Midlands in the 18 months that this has been planned.

“I’ll be working closely with the council, unions and Mayor of Greater Manchester’s office to ensure that Shop Direct management are coordinating properly with trade union representatives and that they keep their commitment to support staff impacted by these anticipated redundancies with relevant financial support, training and advice.

“I am writing to the Prime Minister (Theresa May), and government ministers to demand they are fully engaged in the process of supporting my constituents through this difficult process.”

Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton, also said he would write to Mrs May, and continued: “This is terrible news for people employed at the sites due for closure including, Shaw and Raven Mill in Oldham.

“Many of my constituents working here will be concerned about the future, and it is vital focused support is given to them.”

Oldham Council also pledged to help affected workers.

Helen Lockwood, executive director economy, skills and neighbourhoods, said: “This announcement has come out of the blue and we feel terrible for all those affected.

“The news that a major employer plans to leave is a blow to the borough.

“We are keen to have discussions with the company as soon as possible in order to find a solution that supports our local community.

“Our Get Oldham Working team are ready to offer our help and support to staff.”

Staff turning up for their shift at the Linney Street, Shaw distribution facility spoke of their disappointment at the announcement.

Michael Lees, who lives just round the corner from the factory, has worked there for 10 years and is a general worker and staff trainer.

He said: “There’s been rumours going round now for a good couple of years now, about the possibility of the operation here moving.

“The company’s been getting bigger and gibber and we expected that it would eventually move somewhere else more central.”

Another worker is Danny McAleese. He has been with the company nine years and currently works in the inbound department. He was philosophical over the announcement.

He said: “It’s disappointing, but to be fair the company has given us plenty of warning. Bearing that in mind, I’m pretty confident I will be able to find something else.”

One woman waiting outside the gate for her mother who has worked for the company for more than 20 years told The Oldham Times: “The workers have had a feeling this was coming, but it was still quite shock.

“There have been rumours that the company would be switching to an automated centre, but it was not expected this soon.

“I have worked there myself in busy periods and there are other families who are employed here. This will a big blow to the local community.”