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‘Export chocolate, not jobs’ urge unions

GMB and Unite have slammed Nestle for proposing 300 job losses as it moves production of the iconic Blue Riband chocolate biscuit to Poland.

The confectionary giant is making the savage cuts despite raking in £21 billion from sales – a quarterly increase of 0.4%. [1]

Blue Riband has been made in Britain since 1936 and is primarily consumed by the UK market – meaning it will have to be exported BACK into this country if production moves to Eastern Europe.

The potential job cuts are as follows:

  • York, Yorkshire – 143 jobs
  • Fawdon, North East – 110 jobs
  • Halifax, Yorkshire – 15 jobs
  • Girvan, Scotland – 7 jobs

Following the devastating job losses announced at Diageo [2] and Pepsico [3] in recent weeks, the unions warn this could be the tip of the Brexit iceberg as companies use leaving the EU as an excuse to slash jobs and trample on workers’ rights.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“To shift the production of an iconic British brand like Blue Riband to Poland is completely unacceptable.

“Nestle are throwing people’s lives, and those of their families, into turmoil for the sake of increasing profit margins.

“These factories should be exporting chocolate – not people’s jobs.

“The Government needs to step in before it’s too late – and reassure millions of workers across the country this is not just the tip of the Brexit iceberg.”

EamonO’Hearn, GMB National Officer, said:

“This announcement is exceptionally disappointing, and our reps will expect a full and thorough briefing at the National Forum meeting scheduled for Thursday.

“It is deeply ironic that this announcement is coming from a company that co-authored the Government’s Export Plan for the Food and Drink Industry [4], which called for greater investment in the UK industry and support for quality UK jobs.

“GMB stands ready to campaign with our members and their communities to protect their jobs and conditions.”

Lynn Brook, GMB Officer Yorkshire and North Derbyshire region, said:

“Once again Yorkshire is bearing the brunt of the cuts in an area synonymous with confectionary production par excellence for decades.

“These jobs belong in York and Halifax.

“This Government needs to give confectionary workers in York – home of the Kit Kat – ‘a break’ and back them before it’s too late.

“GMB will fight these cuts all the way and has already joined forces with York Central MP Rachael Maskell.”

Valerie Scott, GMB Northern Region, said:

“This is yet another kick in the teeth for the north east economy.

“Pillaging our jobs and shipping them overseas looks like the worst kind of Brexit imaginable.

“Under this Government it’s more the Northern Poorhouse than Northern Powerhouse.”

Julia Long, Unite national officer, said:

“We will be campaigning to save as many jobs as possible and pressing Nestle to think again about these plans which will see the loss of hundreds jobs and the production of an iconic biscuit shipped to Poland.

“Rather than turning its back on its UK workforce, Nestle should be investing in its UK operations and keeping production here at plants in the UK.

“Over the coming days we will be scrutinising the company’s business rationale for these jobs loses and explore alternatives to its cut and run approach.”