MORE than 200 Blackburn workers have escaped a major wave of redundancies after a management buy-out of their business.

The American-owned Viasystems group has announced it will be axing 850 jobs at its manufacturing plants in the North East.

But it is understood that jobs at the company's site at the Whitebirk Industrial Estate, Blackburn, are safe following the management buy-out which was concluded on Friday.

The company, which manufactures printed circuit boards for the communications, IT and contract manufacturing sectors, is now trading as Invotec Circuits Blackburn.

The business was originally known as TDS Circuits which was bought out by Viasystems in November 1998.

Viasystems has announced that 850 people will be made redundant from its 1,600-strong workforce in North Tyneside and South Shields.

Stephen Byers, Cabinet Minister responsible for employment, transport and the regions, described the announcement as "a black day" for his North Tyneside constituents.

Nobody at the Blackburn factory would comment today other than to confirm the buy-out had taken place on Friday.