Taskforce set up to save 900 jobs at 2 Sisters Corby

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Local government

Solway Foods was part of Northern Foods and makes prepared salads and sandwiches
Solway Foods was part of Northern Foods and makes prepared salads and sandwiches
2 Sisters Food Group is battling to save 913 jobs at its Corby plant as trade union, local council and government representatives unite in a desperate bid to stop its closure.

As the company confirmed the factory's closure was a serious option, Corby MP Andy Sawford and Corby Borough Council leader Councillor Thomas Beattie formed a group to tackle the threat.

“Tom and I have set up a taskforce, comprising the representatives from the Local Enterprise Partnerships, the local authorities and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to see if we can come up with some offers of support that will help the company to keep these jobs in Corby,”​ Sawford said in a statement.

The first meeting of this taskforce is next Monday​ [February 17].”

‘Devastating’

Beattie told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “A closure such as this would be devastating for the workers concerned and a major blow to Corby's economy. Corby Borough Council will do all that it can with other partners, including central government, to help find a resolution to the company's current problems.”

The group has already met Veepul Patel, boss of the Solway Foods factory, formerly part of Northern Foods, to explore all possibilities.

The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) told FoodManufacture.co.uk at the end of January that members at Corby had overwhelmingly voted to strike​ over pay and conditions. However, it has shelved strike plans to help employees face this larger threat.

2 Sisters has launched a 45-day consultation over the future of the plant.

‘Hammer blow’

BFAWU regional officer Tony Lewis called the news a “hammer blow” ​for the area.

2 Sisters said in a statement: “Despite considerable investment over the past two years, our current assessment is that substantial additional funding is required just to keep pace with the demands of a modern high-care food production facility.

“The scale of this continuing investment means that it would not be viable in the long term. In addition, the complexity of serving a wide customer base with an ever-increasing product mix is not a viable proposition for the future.

“We are totally committed to the long-term production of the highest quality food for customers, but that must be in a sustainable and responsible way. Our immediate priority now is to have meaningful discussions with our colleagues during this consultation period to see if other solutions can be found and to help them in any way we can.”

Fit for purpose

2 Sisters claimed the closure was not guaranteed, but it needed considerable further investment to make what was an ageing site fit for purpose.

When the business acquired Northern Foods in 2011, the Corby site, along with other facilities, was known to be in need of upgrading.

Workers report the site, which makes prepared salads and sandwiches, is under heavy pressure from major supermarket customers to enhance operations. In addition, it had lost some business to rivals, according to one source.

“Some work has already been lost to other sites, vis-à-vis Samworth Brothers and Bakkavor,"​ he said. 2 Sisters responded: “We won't comment on commercial activity in terms of specific customers or contracts."

‘Invested millions’

Lewis told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “It has invested millions in the plant in the past year and the returns are not matching the investment. One of the claims of the company has been that it is not fit for purpose, but if not, why invest so heavily?"

If the 2 Sisters factory closed, regional press reports suggest, it would lead to the biggest loss of jobs since the closure of Corby's steelworks in 1980. “This will be a hammer blow for the town,"​ said Lewis.

 

Related news

Show more

1 comment

Black Friday

Posted by Brian Day,

its seems last Friday was indeed a Black Friday for 2 Sisters employees, both in Newport Wales, and in Corby.
However whilst talks are taking place, between the management and the Bfawu, and with the help of Andy Sawford and the Borough Council, we may still reach an agreement that will satisfy all concerned, and save the jobs of the 900 workers, and the community.
My thoughts are with all the workers at both Corby and Newport.

Report abuse