Unite has slammed 2 Sisters Food Group for announcing it would shut down a poultry plant in Cambuslang, Scotland, in August, which would see the loss of 450 jobs.
2 Sisters confirmed the closure yesterday (April 12), amid criticism from Unite for not properly consulting the union and failing to pursue all avenues to avert shutting the plant down.
In a notice given to workers yesterday, management wrote, “Despite everyone’s best efforts we have not been able to find an alternative to the initial proposal to close the company.”
But Unite has challenged this account, saying that management had already agreed at a board level to close the Cambuslang plant before it even entered into the consultation period with the union. Unite argues that talks with the Scottish government seeking assistance to keep the plant open were still ongoing but “the 2 Sisters bosses slammed it shut last week”, said Unite convenor Scot Walker.
“We met with the 2 Sisters’ management last week and asked for an extension to the consultation period so that the union could make further approaches to the Scottish Government who had offered further assistance, including the First Minister’s involvement, to get it over the line,” Walker said. “The company turned that down flat. They told us the factory was closing and that the consultation on that could not be extended.”
“In the message to workers yesterday there was a great shedding of written crocodile tears,” he added. “The reality is different. It is about a closure decision that was already reached before consultation began. And then a process to deliver the company’s foregone conclusion. What a shabby way to treat a workforce that has shown great loyalty to this company.”
Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West Gerard Killen called the announcement a “devastating blow for the workforce, their families and the wider community in Cambuslang.
“The priority now must be securing the best possible outcome for the workers who will be affected and I will do whatever I can to help in that process,” he said.
Unite expressed concern over 2 Sisters’ future plans, which the union fears will mean all cooked poultry processing being concentrated in one site in East Anglia.
The news follows 2 Sisters’ announcing in February that it is considering closing two other poultry plants in Smethwick and Wolverhampton, risking hundreds of more jobs.
Unite national officer for food Joe Clarke highlighted the hard work staff have put in to make the company a success – most recently 2 Sisters worked with Unite and its members to improve processes at a plant dogged by controversy following an ITV and Guardian undercover investigation on food standards.
“Workers who have stuck with the company through thick and thin and worked hard to make it a success will inevitably feel a sense of betrayal,” he said in February.
Unite will now seek legal advice over the Cambuslang plant closure.