The food giant announced its proposal to cut a third of the factory’s workforce on November 1. It planned to close the retail packing department at the site, and move it to the company’s Cornwall site.
St Merryn Food Group, which processes and packs red meat, said the decision to launch a review was not taken lightly. However, it claimed it was “the only way our business can survive and prosper for the longer term”. It blamed the declining market for red meat – as well as falling volumes, higher input costs and the competitive market – for the company’s decision.
‘No longer sustainable’
A St Merryn Food Group statement said: “This extremely difficult environment means the packing operation at Merthyr [Tydfil, South Wales], which includes the packing of steaks and chops, is no longer sustainable.
“Our main focus now is to begin discussions with our colleagues to explore every available option to mitigate the potential loss of this function, which will include seeking relocation and redeployment opportunities elsewhere in the group.
“This decision does not impact our beef and lamb slaughter and cutting operations and these will continue to operate as usual at Merthyr Tydfil. The site will continue to employ up to 700 colleagues.”
The company has entered a 45-day consultation period with the Welsh government and Merthy Tydfil and Rhymney Labour MP Gerald Jones. Jones said he would work with Welsh Labour Assembly Member Dawn Bowden and the union to help its members (see Tweet below).
The Usdaw union said the proposed job losses would have a big impact on the local community.
St Merryn Food Group proposed job cuts – at a glance
- 350 job cuts proposed
- 2 Sisters plans to move retail packaging department to Cornwall
- 45-day consultation period begins
Usdaw divisional officer Nick Ireland said: “This proposal will be devastating news for the loyal and hardworking staff at the Merthyr Tydfil site, especially so in the run up to Christmas.
“Usdaw will be doing everything we can during the 45-day consultation process to look in detail at the proposals with a view to safeguarding jobs, maximising future employment at the Merthyr Tydfil site and securing the best deal possible for staff. We will be giving our members our full support, advice and representation during the consultation process.”
Meanwhile, in September, 2 Sisters disclosed it was considering up to 524 redundancies at Gunstones Bakery. The proposed job cuts came after the company lost a contract with a major supplier for its chilled filled rolls, sushi and garlic bread.
Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) on proposed 350 job cuts
- “The plant employs around 1,000 people, so we are talking about the potential loss of around a third of the workforce. This would be a major blow for the local economy. The agricultural supply chain employs scores of thousands of people in Wales’ rural and urban areas, and these proposals will come as a major blow to the families affected and the community as a whole.”