Trade union Unite has accused Duke Street Capital (DSC) of leaving it too late to consult over the fate of its Burton's Foods biscuit plant in Moreton, set to close this year, threatening 660 jobs.
“Its proposal [to close the factory] was put to us in May, but the plan was hatched last year,” said the Transport and General section of Unite regional industrial organiser Franny Joyce. “It could be that the consultation has been a sham.
“We believe Burton's Foods has only presented us with information that justifies its own conclusion and has refused on numerous occasions to provide us with all the information at its disposal,” he added.
DSC is currently considering the union’s alternative strategy, which wouldn’t save all 660 jobs, but would retain some manufacture at the plant. The company denied withholding information, claiming that it had entered into consultations in a “genuine and meaningful way”.
It claimed that the proposal to cease the production of biscuits at Moreton was reached following a review of the total manufacturing capacity of the whole of Burton’s Foods, which includes manufacturing plants in Blackpool, South Wales and Scotland as well as Moreton. This review commenced in December, before the sale of the business to DSC, and was communicated to all staff at all sites in November, said the firm.
DSC stated that its decision was based upon the significant amount of overcapacity both within snack manufacturers as a whole and within Burton’s specifically.
Owen Warnock, employment law partner at Eversheds, said: “It is not illegal for any company to have the thought to have reductions, but as soon as you have proposals, then unions must be consulted. Sometimes employers don’t consult early enough on reductions, but it is common for unions to complain regardless.”