Nestlé UK is considering moving some of its confectionery factory operations to Poland to improve site efficiency and competitiveness.
The changes could see production of Blue Riband biscuits move from Nestlé’s Fawdon factory in Newcastle to Poland.
Fawdon is currently Nestlé UK’s most complex confectionary site, the firm said, and the move would allow it to “simplify and focus” the site’s operations. “These proposals are being made by Nestlé UK to ensure that these sites operate more efficiently and remain competitive,” it said.
The proposals could also see up to 298 roles within its UK factories being cut across factories in York, Fawdon, Halifax and Girvan over the next two years. Nestlé said it expects to achieve through voluntary redundancies.
In joint statements the GMB and Unite unions criticised the move calling the cuts “savage” in light of Nestlé’s profits. Julia Long, Unite national officer for the food industry, said they would campaign to save as many jobs as possible and pressed Nestlé to “think again”.
Tim Roach, general secretary of the GMB, said moving production of an “iconic British brand” to Poland was “completely unacceptable” and called on the government to step in and “reassure millions of workers… this is not just the tip of the Brexit iceberg”.
A Nestlé spokesman told the BBC the move would be “necessary irrespective of the decision to leave the EU”. He also said Blue Riband was just one of 16 products made at Fawdon and was the only one being moved.
Nestlé will launch a 45-day consultation on the proposed changes that will include trade union and employee representatives. “Nestlé UK appreciates that this is an uncertain time for employees and will work hard to ensure all are supported through this difficult period,” it said.
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