Middleport based Steelite is looking to axe 162 jobs as it becomes the latest ceramics firm to be hit by the pandemic.
With much of the hospitality sector having been closed since March due to the outbreak of Covid-19, and foreign markets also affected by the virus, sales of tableware have been hit hard.
The GMB Union has told Signal News that Steelite are asking for voluntary redundancies, with 133 shop floor and 29 staff roles at risk.
However, bosses at the firm have not ruled out making compulsory redundancies if needs be.
The union says that a consultation is underway and they're talking to the firm about the possibilities of flexible working and job sharing as ways of mitigating the number of people put out of work.
Wendy Grieveson, GMB Organiser said: "It's just so sad. It's getting to be the normal that you're talking to people about redundancies.
"The pots have had a hit now for about twenty years, and it's been slowly reducing and reducing, and there's not many left, and it's having a big hit on them, especially in the hospitality trade.
"Times are hard."
Wendy said that the news has caused a lot of anxiety amongst the staff: "They're all just on edge because they're in a situation at the moment where they don't know if their job's safe or if it isn't.
"They just want to know whether they've got a job or not."
"Until the criteria is agreed then nobody knows the names of those going to made redundant."
"They're living on a knife edge at the minute."
Louise Griffin, Steelite Group HR Director, said in a statement: “We are constantly reviewing our overhead costs of the business to reflect the trading position at this time and to accommodate the impact of global market trading post-pandemic.
"While we are making operational changes to accommodate this and some savings will be seen as a result, the hospitality marketplace has been significantly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic and our anticipated growth will not be realised due to this sudden and dramatic downturn in trading we have seen in recent months.”
“No business could have predicted these unprecedented times in which we now find ourselves and unfortunately difficult decisions must be made.
"Our priority during this process will be to treat everyone with dignity, fairness and respect and we hope that these measures will go some way to sustain Steelite’s future and the livelihoods of our colleagues that remain with us.”