Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy said: “News [on Tuesday March 2] that the first 40 redundancies have been announced is very sad, but not unexpected, news. The workers’ last day will be May 25.”
The workers and their families were understandably “devastated” by the news, he added. “It is also a grim day for the town of Shepton Mallet and its historic and proud links to the art of cider making, stretching back to 1770.”
‘Nothing new here’
But a spokesman for C&C Group denied that 40 roles had been made involuntarily redundant. “There is nothing new here,” the spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“Workers were given a choice at an early stage, and of the 40 positions, 50% [of the workers involved] volunteered to go,” he said.
But Unite – which has long campaigned to keep the plant fully open – said the development highlighted the need to find a new buyer for the cider mill.
“The fact that a third of the workforce has now been given notice at the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill just reinforces the need for the management to accelerate their efforts to find a buyer for the site,” said Preddy.
“Any such sale would be greatly assisted if the company agreed to sell its well-known brands, such as Blackthorn and Olde English, as well as the site itself.”
‘A very attractive package’
Including the brands in the sale of the site would make “a very attractive package” for a potential buyer, said the union. The site was said to be already profitable and to benefit from an enthusiastic and dedicated workforce.
Preddy concluded: “The owners, the Dublin-based C&C Group, are proving to be a rotten apple amongst employers.”
Last month, the Dublin-based owner confirmed production was being moved to the Republic of Ireland.
While fruit pulping would continue at the Shepton Mallet site and apples would still be sourced from local farmers, up to 120 jobs were thought to be at risk.
The well-known cider brands Gaymers and Blackthorn at the plant, which employed 127 staff.
Redundancies: what they say
Unite the union
- “News [on Tuesday March 2] that the first 40 redundancies have been announced is very sad, but not unexpected, news. The workers’ last day will be May 25.”
- “There is nothing new here. Workers were given a choice at an early stage, and of the 40 positions, 50% [of the workers involved] volunteered to go.”