Unilever’s plan to sell its Spreads business has “fuelled uncertainty” about the future of 200 workers at its Purfleet, Essex, factory, the union said.
Its comments came after the Unilever European Works Council said Unilever should do everything in its power to secure the future of the business, and the jobs of more than 1,000 workers in Europe affected by the decision.
‘A healthy profit’
Unite national officer for Unilever Rhys McCarthy said: “We are urging Unilever to think very carefully about the sale of its Spreads division, which although neglected by poor past management decisions, makes a healthy profit.
“We are also extremely concerned that private equity firms will leverage vast sums of borrowed money to bid for the business and, if successful, make huge cuts and factory closures in order to make a quick buck to service their debts.”
The union said regulation was needed to tighten mergers and acquisitions laws in the UK.
‘Raid and take over’
It urged the government to stop private equity firms from “using billions of pounds of debt to raid and take over British companies, and then cut and slash, as workers lose their jobs”.
No one from Unilever was available to comment on the union’s calls for job assurances.
Last month, Unite said it was “deeply concerned and disappointed” in Unilever’s decision to sell the Spreads business. The business was still profitable, and the manufacturer was just looking to prevent another takeover attempt, like the failed Kraft Heinz bid in February.
Meanwhile, on April 7, Unilever revealed it would combine its Foods and Refreshment activities into one organisation based in the Netherlands, following the sale of the Spreads business.