ABP Foods has confirmed that production will end at its Glasgow frozen sausage factory Freshlink Foods in early 2013, with the loss of 144 jobs.
A spokesman for Freshlink Foods told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “This closure results from an internal competitiveness driving the restructuring of the activities of Freshlink Foods and a sister facility within the group to which the business is being relocated.”
However, earlier this year, John Tonner, area organiser of the Union of Shop, Distribution and Allied Workers (USDAW) told FoodManufacture.co.uk that factory staff said the jobs were under threat because the site did not meet the requirements of upcoming European cold storage gas regulation.
Freshlink refused to comment on this claim.
Tonner said the company would need to spend £15–20M to bring the site in line with requirements of European Commission cold storage gas regulation.
The law will ban the use of all hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerant gases from the end of 2014.
‘Rolls Royce engine in a Ford Escort’
Tonner said one site worker told him bringing the Glasgow site’s equipment in line with the regulation would be equivalent to “putting a Rolls Royce engine in a Ford Escort”.
Freshlink is now relocating production from Glasgow to its Dalepak Foods site in Northallerton, Yorkshire. The firm estimates that this will happen in phases “over the coming weeks and months”.
Responding to the news, USDAW’s deputy divisional officer Stewart Forrest said: “This is devastating news for Freshlink’s long-serving and loyal workforce and a real body blow to a local community that’s already suffering from high unemployment, with 17 people chasing every single job centre vacancy.
“There are entire families employed at the factory and we have many members who have worked at Freshlink for more than 30 years.”
Freshlink Foods’ spokesman said: “It is with great regret that this decision has been taken. However, while a significant number of options have been considered during a lengthy and ongoing consultation process with employees, the relocation of production to an existing site within the group had a substantially lower funding requirement than all of the other options considered.”
USDAW is working with the Scottish government, Glasgow City Council and Clyde Gateway trade park to table several counter proposals and has had “tremendous” backing from local Labour MP Margaret Curran and local councillor Frank McAveety.
Forrest said: “It is an extremely sad day, but our focus must now turn to putting into place the best possible support to help our members find alternative employment and, of course, to securing a redundancy package from ABP that properly reflects the commitment and contribution our members have made to the success of the company over many years.”
Freshlink’s spokesman said: “As part of the continuing consultation process, employees will be given assistance and support as they seek alternative employment, to include other opportunities within the wider group.”