Up to 170 face redundancy at Bakkavör's Bourne site

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Employment, Unite the union

Up to 170 face redundancy at Bakkavör's Bourne site
Up to 170 staff face redundancy at Bakkavör's Bourne Prepared Produce site in Lincolnshire as the 90-day consultation period draws to a close.

Bosses at the site, which makes prepared vegetables, salads and fruits for the supermarkets, had originally warned that up to 375 staff - a third of the workforce - could be made redundant.

However, "actual redundancies will be considerably lower than the 375 placed at risk when we embarked on t​his process", a company spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk, although final numbers would not be confirmed until January 17, 2011.

"Through changing shift patterns, placing staff in other Bakkavör sites and taking leavers into account, we have reduced the potential number of positions at risk of redundancy to 170.

"In addition, we have enhanced our redundancy package for those affected, we will not be making any changes to hourly rates for current employees and we will be introducing improved overtime thresholds."

The move would "secure more than 700 jobs at Bourne" ​he said, which suggests that quite a large number of staff are either transferring to other sites or leaving given that the site employs more than 1,000 people.

The firm would not say whether the Bourne site had lost a supermarket contract, but blamed “difficult trading conditions…reduced sales volumes and higher raw material costs”​ for the restructuring.

Unite: 'Furious'

Meanwhile, the Unite trade union said it was "furious that, so close to Christmas, managers at the site have declared the consultation on their job plans over - even though only yesterday further meetings to look at cost-saving measures in a bid to retain jobs and minimise cuts were agreed with the union".

Jennie Formby, Unite's national officer for food and drink, said: "We are particularly angry on behalf of the workforce that management has unilaterally announced the consultation is over when we still have meetings planned to look at alternatives to some of the proposals."

While the basic pay rate had not been changed, the firm had nevertheless "savagely cut earnings​" via a series of complex manouevres over shift patterns, pay for breaks, bank holiday pay, and new starter rates for certain staff.

Formby also suggested that the site's problems were not insoluble: "Unite has suggested a number of ways in which significant savings can be made and losses turned around - they are not in a ‘make or break situation’ but are trying to terrify workers into accepting poverty pay."

Bakkavör, which has recently resolved a protracted dispute with staff at its pizza plant in Harrow, posted a 24.6% rise in earnings (before interest tax, depreciation and goodwill amortisation) to £135.1m on sales of £1.65bn in 2009.

Related topics: Fresh produce

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