YFF, a subsidiary of chilled food giant Bakkavor, employs 445 workers at its site in Selby, north Yorkshire who chop and peel fruit. It is set to shut down after its only customer, which Unite claims is Asda, awarded the contract to a competitor.
“What we are seeing here is a mean-spirted ‘them and us’ approach when it comes to redundancy packages,” said Unite regional officer Sarah Mitchell.
“If you are an hourly paid employee you will receive the statutory redundancy pay, plus £50, a so-called ‘goodwill’ payment; while if you are a salaried member of staff with 10 years’ service, you will get about £3,000-£3,500 on top of the statutory minimum. This is blatantly unfair and discriminatory.
“We think this two-tier approach is disgraceful and by making this public we hope to shame YFF into being more generous and bring up the pay-outs to that of the salaried staff. Its parent company, the Bakkavor Group is very profitable and can well afford to be much more generous.”
Unite threatened to hold a strike ballot for its members working at the Selby plant if the offer was not substantially improved.
“The closure is a bitter blow for the workers, their families and the local economy,” said Mitchell. “The management is looking for a buyer for the company and we have managed to save about 40 jobs, so far.
“Unite is working with the careers service and all interested parties to find our members, who make up the majority of the workforce, alternative employment.”
Bakkavor has announced that YFF would cease trading at the end of June, following a 45-day consultation period with its 445 staff.
In a statement, Bakkavor said: “YFF continues to make significant efforts to assist staff in finding alternative employment in the local area and relocate staff wherever possible elsewhere within the Bakkavor Group. However, regrettably, we anticipate that up to 419 staff will be made redundant, subject to any further potential interest in roles available within the Group.
“Today’s announcement follows confirmation in January 2015 of the loss of a major customer for YFF and management has concluded that consequently the business will not be viable going forward.
“YFF would like to thank all staff for their commitment and professionalism during this difficult time.”
News of YFF’s closure surfaced in February amid widespread reports it had lost a major contract with Asda. Bakkavor has officially neither confirmed nor denied this.
Bakkavor makes a range of fresh and chilled prepared foods operating from 32 facilities across the UK. A total of 89% of its group sales now come from the UK market.