GMB senior organiser Alex McLuckie told FoodManufacture.co.uk management had raised the prospect that redundancies might have been necessary before, but not on the scale it announced this week.
“They sat down with us a month ago, talking about working in partnership to get new products up and running, how they could cut costs and improve waste. Before we started that work we were hit with these redundancies.
“There was some discussion about the need to reduce headcount in the factory, but … it was much lower than 64 and from the reps point of view, they would have seen the rationale for a much lower figure.”
McLuckie said he thought the timing of the voluntary redundancies proposal was convenient, given that staff at the plant, which employs more than 800 people, were involved in a pay dispute. “We are concerned it [the redundancies] might be taking place to put pressure on us in the run-up to the pay ballot.”
He expressed concerns that the number stated would be counter-productive to the factory’s performance and believed it ran counter to parallel plans to recruit more agency workers. “We firmly believe that at that level of job losses they won’t be making targets because they will have cut too deep … because of that we will fight this level of job losses.
“If the employer had come to our reps with a figure they felt was fair and accurate we would deal with it as we would with any redundancy situation.
“We will be using this consultation to ask them to look again at the new model of production they are proposing, because we think they have got the headcount wrong.”
Burton’s Biscuits, which makes brands such as Maryland Cookies, Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels, began a 30-day consultation on the voluntary redundancy proposals on Wednesday (June 25).
In a statement, the company said: “Burton’s Biscuit Company continually reviews its business to identify the changes that are required to improve capabilities and competitiveness, and 64 roles will regrettably be made redundant at Burton’s Edinburgh facility.
“The company met with the GMB union on Wednesday June 25, and will be speaking to all affected employees. Affected employees will enter a minimum 30 day consultation period.”