Heinz 250 job cut plan: union calls for urgent talks

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Heinz plans to cut 250 office jobs throughout the UK and Ireland – including at its Kendall plant where baby food is made
Heinz plans to cut 250 office jobs throughout the UK and Ireland – including at its Kendall plant where baby food is made
Unite the union has called for urgent talks with Heinz, after “the devastating news” that it planned to cut 250 UK jobs.

The manufacturer unveiled the cuts this week (August 21), as part of what it called a “streamlining exercise”.​ Senior management concluded the cuts were necessary to facilitate the firm’s transition from a public listing to a private company following a global business review.

Rhys McCarthy, Unite national officer for the food sector, said the cuts would have a huge impact on the union’s members and their families.

“A nearly 10% reduction in UK staff is savage, unnecessary and is putting profits before people,”​ said McCarthy. “Ruthless cost cutting to maximise returns is the hallmark of pirate privateers.”

​Pirate privateers’

He claimed the cuts followed Heinz’s its acquisition​ by US billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital venture capitalists for £18bn at the start of this year.

Heinz said the proposed job cuts would involve 248 office positions across the UK and Ireland. “We regret the impact this may have on Heinz employees and their families,”​ said the firm.

“Our new organisational structure will simplify, strengthen and leverage the company’s global scale, while enabling faster decision-making, increased accountability, and accelerated growth.”

Unite also complained that despite it being a recognised union at Heinz’s sites in the UK and Ireland, it had learnt of the cuts through the media. That showed “an enormous lack of respect”​ for its members, claimed the union. 

‘Enormous lack of respect’

The union said it wanted an urgent meeting with Heinz management to ensure the consultation mitigated any potential job losses.

The manufacturer employs about 2,600 workers at its factories at Hayes, Middlesex, Wigan, Lancashire, Kendal, Cumbria, Telford, Shropshire, Westwick, Norfolk and Worcester.

In June, Unite raised doubts about the viability of Heinz’s Kendal factory, after the firm announced the loss of 45 jobs​ across production and management.

Heinz said the cuts were made following the decision to transfer production of baby milk for China from Kendal to a New Zealand factory run by dairy giant Fonterra.

 

Heinz in numbers

  • 18bn – price paid in pounds for Heinz by Warren Buffet.
  • 144 – years since Heinz founded by HJ Heinz and Clarence Nobel.
  • 1.5M – cans of beans sold in Britain each day.
  • 1.5bn – annual ketchup sales in dollars in more than 40 countries.

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