Ian Wood, regional organising secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that, based on information he had seen today (March 2), 2 Sisters proposed to cut 91 jobs at Batley.
That figure consisted of 46 manual, 39 managerial and six technical roles. The facility employs about 950 staff.
However, this website understands that 2 Sisters is also proposing to cut a similar proportion of jobs at its Kirkham biscuit factory in Lancashire and that posts are also likely to go at its Uttoxeter site. Precise numbers are not, as yet, available, but at least 200 jobs could potentially be threatened.
Wood said 2 Sisters planned to cut the jobs between April 13 and April 17. Lower demand for products and changes to working practices are understood to lie behind the move.
However, he said the company was working to minimise compulsory job losses, inviting volunteers for redundancy and, at the same time, restructuring to create roles.
“A notice has gone up [at the factory] requesting volunteers [for redundancy],” said Wood. He added that he had been told 2 Sisters also planned to create 14 production and 14 middle management roles at Batley, meaning a net loss of just over 60 jobs was likely. That figure could, however, increase or decrease during consultation, he stressed.
“If there are compulsory redundancies, there may also be the opportunity for some of those workers to come back in the run-up to Christmas on fixed term contracts,” he said.
2 Sisters acquired its three biscuit factories when it bought Fox’s Biscuits as part of its larger acquisition of Northern Foods, in 2011. According to 2 Sisters’ website, the Kirkham facility produces 50,000t of biscuits a year, while the Batley plant produces 25,000t annually.
The three factories make Fox’s branded lines as well as a wide range of own-label biscuit varieties.
In a statement, 2 Sisters said: “As part of the on-going relaunch of our brands and making our business fit for the future, Fox’s Biscuits can confirm we will be entering into a period of consultation with some of our colleagues at our sites across the UK.
“Following a strategic internal review, we are proposing to consult with colleagues throughout the business in a number of functional areas at our five main manufacturing, commercial and support locations.
“It is far too early to say what impact this will have, but some roles will regrettably be at risk of redundancy. However, we will be working hard with colleagues to minimise the impact of our proposals and look at all alternative options, including voluntary redundancy, redeployments and the creation of some new roles.
“Our primary focus now will be to support our colleagues during the 45-day consultation process.”
Last week it emerged that 2 Sisters was planning 300 job cuts at its Llangefni chicken factory in Wales.