The unions have written to the independent directors of the drinks manufacturer, calling on them to listen to workers and the community’s fears over jobs and the local economy.
The proposed closure of the Norwich factory would put 240 jobs at risk and raised concerns for the future production of Colemans mustard, which has been made by Unilever alongside Britvic’s production.
The letter, sent to Ian McHoul, senior independent director, and independent non-executive directors Sue Clark, Ben Gordon and Euan Sutherland, raised concerns about the consultation process.
‘Not been any meaningful consultation’
Ivan Mercer, GMB regional organiser, said: “There is a strong feeling that this process is being rushed and that there has not been any meaningful consultation with the workforce or their consultative group.
“Members at the factory are concerned that there are a number of conflicting answers to simple questions and they fear the consultation will be closed the Friday before the company annual results are released on the Monday.”
The GMB said it was concerned that Britvic had only shared detailed financial information half-way through the consultation process.
It said it was both skeptical and unclear as to the rationale for the factory’s closure, other than a potential savings figure – between £11–14M – and potential reduction in carbon emissions and road miles. The union also claimed the site was a profitable and very reliable production location that was under-utilised.
Unite’s national officer for food and drink Julia Long added: “Unite has very serious concerns that the legal process is not being followed in an open and transparent manner, hence the letter to the independent directors. The company bosses need to talk to the unions, the workforce and the local community.
“Our membership deserve better than this from a company for whom they have worked hard to earn good profits for Britvic over many years.”
Britvic declined to comment on the Unions’ claims.
In a letter last month, the GMB claimed that Britvic had provided no meaningful evidence for the closure of the Norwich factory.
It questioned whether the consultation process was genuine, or if the company was merely “going through the motions”.