The union – which has about 330 members at the factory – said it needed justification for the company’s decision to close the factory.
It also blamed a lack of investment from the factory’s previous owner, Dairy Crest, on the planned job cuts.
Unite national officer for road transport, commercial logistics and retail distribution Matt Draper said: “The hardworking workforce has had a double kick in the teeth. They took a 10% pay cut when the site was owned by Dairy Crest to keep the operation going. But despite this, the new owners are now closing the plant.
‘A devastating blow’
“This a devastating blow for the workers and their families as well as to local economy as there are 389 jobs at risk with another 30 to 40 at the Nampack bottling plant which shares the site. Unite will be doing its utmost in the days and weeks ahead to support our members at this painful time.”
Müller Milk & Ingredients announced plans to close the factory last week (November 4). It claimed the factory was “no longer economically viable”, while revealing plans to invest £100M elsewhere.
The company said it would begin a 45-day consultation period with staff and their representatives from tomorrow (November 10), and would go into the negotiations with an open mind.
‘Exploring every possibility to keep the plant going’
“We are meeting the company on Thursday (November 10) at the start of the 45-day consultation process and we will be asking to see the financial figures that justify this decision,” said Draper. “We will be exploring with the management every possibility to keep the plant going.
“But we have to acknowledge the unrelenting pressure that supermarkets are exerting on milk producers to drive down prices to often uneconomic levels. What has happened at Chadwell Heath is a symptom of this unpleasant phenomenon.”
Meanwhile, Müller said it would invest £60M at its Severnside and Foston, Lincolnshire sites, creating up to 180 jobs. The firm closed its Aberdeen dairy factory in June, with the loss of 87 jobs.
Müller restructuring plan – at a glance
- Chadwell Heath dairy factory to close in 18 months
- 389 jobs at risk
- 45-day consultation period with staff and representatives begins next week
- £100M investment in other sites