The closure of Hovis’ Southampton mill with the loss of up to 70 jobs could have serious ripple effects that threaten a number of logistics jobs across the UK.
Hovis Ltd announced on Monday (October 1) that the Southampton flour mill will close at the end of 2018 and would see the separate warehouse and logistics operations working for Hovis at DHL Bawtry (near Doncaster), DHL Southampton and DSV Belfast cease at the end of the year.
Unite the union expressed ‘serious concern and dismay’ at the level of proposed job losses at Hovis as well as at DHL Bawtry where it has 200 members, DHL Southampton (31 members) and 18 at DSV Belfast. It is not clear at this stage how many Unite members are working at these sites on the Hovis contract.
Unite called for an urgent meeting with Hovis to examine the business case for shutting the Southampton site, which has been operating since the 1930s, Hovis claims that Southampton mill, which includes the research and development unit, is ‘significantly loss-making’.
“This is a serious blow to the workers and their families and, more generally, for the Southampton economy,”said Unite acting regional secretary for the south east Ian Woodland. “The mill has been operating for more than 80 years, so there is a lot of history here.
“We are asking for an urgent meeting with the Hovis management to explore the business rationale for the proposed closure and to make the case strongly for a rethink on this decision,” he added.
“One of the points we will be making strongly is that the Southampton site has never had any investment and refurbishment compared with the other Hovis sites across the UK which have been redeveloped – this is a very disappointing aspect of today’s announcement.
“We will be also giving maximum support to our members in the challenging days and weeks ahead.”
Unite national officer for logistics and road transport Matt Draper added, “We are digesting what this serious news will mean for our members at these three sites in Belfast, Southampton and Yorkshire which are separate logistics’ companies working for Hovis.
“We need to ascertain how many of our members are working on the Hovis contracts at these sites.
“It is crucial that every effort is made to ensure the impact of possible job losses is mitigated and our hardworking members are, wherever possible, redeployed onto other contracts.”