Irish drinks giant C&C has been accused of behaving with ‘cavalier contempt’ towards its Shepton Mallet Cider Mill workforce, as confusion swirls about the employment prospects of the remaining workers.
In January, it was announced that the Somerset factory would close by the end of the summer with the loss of 120 jobs, ending a cider-making tradition in the town stretching back to 1770. Production of such brands as Blackthorn and Olde English would be at Clonmel in the Irish Republic.
However, Unite said today (September 30) that the company was finalising the legal details to TUPE – (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations) – an unknown number of the 80 remaining staff to a yet-to-be identified new employer.
Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy said,“C&C has treated the hardworking workforce at this very profitable site with cavalier contempt.
“First of all, the company said that site would close in the summer, then there is a period of uncertainty and a stunning lack of clarity from the bosses, and now we believe that the 80 remaining workers could be TUPE’d to a new, but unidentified employer.
“This no way to conduct mature employment relations in 2016 – lives have been turned upside down during the last nine months, while Dublin-based C&C has manoeuvred in the shadows to squeeze even more profit from its operations,” he added.
“We are delighted that there is the prospect that cider production at the site will continue, but appalled at the way the company has conducted itself.
“The workers at Shepton Mallet, at the very least, deserve to be told in an open and transparent fashion what the company is negotiating and how it will impact on them.”
In April, it was announced that Brothers Drinks was taking over the bottling line, which cost an estimated £6m and had never been used, just across the road from the main Kilver Street site.