No ‘meaningful evidence’ for Britvic factory closure: GMB

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

The closure of Britvic’s Norwich factory isn't backed by ‘meaningful evidence’, claimed the GMB
The closure of Britvic’s Norwich factory isn't backed by ‘meaningful evidence’, claimed the GMB

Related tags: Robinsons, Gmb

The closure of Britvic’s Norwich factory – putting more than 200 jobs at risk – is not supported by any “meaningful evidence”, according to the GMB union.

The union labelled the consultation over the future of the factory “a sham”, ​with its members fearing for their jobs.

At a meeting last week, members highlighted a number of online adverts and social media activity that it said indicated Britvic had already made its decision.

Ivan Mercer, GMB regional organiser, said: “So far Britvic have failed to provide us with any meaningful evidence to support their current proposal to close this site by end of 2019.” 

The GMB added that it had yet to see a detailed piece of work that underpinned Britvic’s decision to close the factory.

‘Going through the motions’

In a letter to Britvic, GMB said: “As Britvic is aware, GMB and other parties are questioning if the current consultation process is genuine, or whether the company is merely going through the motions.

“GMB, in particular, is frustrated that important queries have to date gone unanswered, and I am specifically concerned that Britvic has so far failed to present any economic evidence or modelling to support its proposal.”

The meeting heard how Britvic had outlined its first wave of redundancies, which would begin in June 2018. Up to 39 people would be affected, according to the GMB, including 20 agency staff and 13 people on fixed-term contracts.

Mercer also pointed out that Britvic was advertising for a number of new positions at its Rugby plant. A Britvic spokesman said the investment at the Rugby plant had been previously announced and was unrelated to the Norwich site proposals.

However, Britvic said that the GMB’s claims were completely untrue. A spokesman for the company said: “We’ve made a proposal and no decisions will be made prior to full and proper consultation which we are undertaking at present.”

‘Full and proper consultation’

Britvic said the jobs advertised at the Rugby site were unrelated to the consultation on the Norwich site and were “in relation to the normal running of the sire, as would be expected due to employee turnover”.

At the start of the month, Britvic revealed plans to close its Norwich factory, putting 242 jobs at risk.

The proposal would see production of the company’s Robinsons and Fruit Shoot drinks moved to its manufacturing sites in East London, Leeds and Rugby. If implemented, the plan would result in the closure of the site towards the end of 2019.

Britvic said closing the factory was part of its plans to improve the efficiency and productivity of its manufacturing operations. Britvic’s board of directors has entered consultation with affected staff and Unilever, which co-owns the site.

Related topics: Drinks, People & Skills

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