The Norfolk job cuts were a “big blow” to the workers and local economy, the union said.
Earlier in the week, Bernard Matthews said the planned job cuts were part of a restructuring process that would ultimately make the company “fit for future growth”.
Unite was disappointed to hear about the job losses, after Bernard Matthews’ owner – Boparan Private Office – had vowed to restore the turkey producer back to its former glory, the union added.
“This is deeply disappointing news, as it was only five months ago it was made clear that the new owner wished to restore Bernard Matthews to its former position as a highly profitable business,” said Unite regional officer Steve Harley. “This was going to be achieved by greater investment in the business and utilising the spare capacity at Bernard Matthews to process chicken and not just turkeys.
‘A big blow’
“However, following a review of its turkey production operations at its plants in Norfolk and Suffolk, we have been given this news [on February 9]. [It’s] a big blow to the workers, their families and the local economy.”
The 45-day consultation period began on Tuesday (February 7), according to Unite. The union claimed there was no need for compulsory redundancies at the site.
“Unite’s priority is putting the case that there should be no compulsory redundancies amongst this dedicated workforce,” Harley said.
“We will also be urging for redeployment within other parts of the Bernard Matthews business and, where this is not possible, look for new employment across other poultry companies, including 2 Sisters.”
Plans to cut 150 jobs
Bernard Matthews revealed the plans to cut 150 jobs earlier this week (February 7). At least 90 jobs were at risk at its production factory in Great Witchingham, and a further 50 at its head office.
The proposed job cuts were part of a company-wide restructuring programme, which would see chicken production end at the Norfolk factory, and transferred to Suffolk, the turkey producer said.
Earlier this week, a Bernard Matthews spokesman said: “The potential changes are a consequence of the company undertaking restructuring across its head office and a proposal to cease production of chicken at its Great Witchingham factory. If these changes proceed, they will create a business which is fit for future growth.
“Our focus now is to support colleagues affected and ensure we explore all options available to us to mitigate potential job losses.”
FoodManufacture.co.uk has contacted Bernard Matthews for a response to Unite’s statement.
Bernard Matthews’ planned job cuts – at a glance
- Up to 150 jobs at risk in total
- At least 90 jobs at great Witchingham production factory
- 50 jobs at Bernard Matthews’ Great Witchingham headquarters