Unite said it would leave no stone unturned in the fight to save jobs and avert the closure of three poultry plants after 2 Sisters Food Group announced plans to close its Cambuslang site in Scotland and Smethwick and Wolverhampton sites in England.
Workers were informed of the plans, which put 900 jobs at risk, yesterday (Thursday February 8). Unite said it would now enter consultation with the company and press the case for investment and alternatives to the planned closures in a series of meetings with the company over the coming days and weeks.
“These plans have caused a lot of uncertainty and dismay for the workers involved. Unite will be doing everything it can to support our members and secure their futures following this announcement,” commented Unite national officer for food Joe Clarke.
“These plans will impact on communities and employment opportunities in Scotland and the West Midlands. Over the coming days and weeks, Unite will be pressing the case for jobs and investment to save the three sites from closure,” he added.
The 2 Sisters chicken production plant has been in Cambuslang for 35 years. The current owners informed workers at the plant that it faces complete closure by the summer of this year. The company told Unite that there are serious problems with the fabric of the plant, on-going unsustainable losses, and ‘an inability to meet future customer and consumer needs’.
The Unite convenor at the Cambuslang plant is Scot Walker. “Obviously we are dismayed at the news of the possible closure,” Walker commented.
“But it is far too early to accept that this is the final word. Unite will do everything in negotiation with the company to find a way to safeguard the future of the site and protect the jobs. What is at stake are more than 450 jobs and the future of the local community.”
‘Chickens come home to roost’
Walker continued, “The company says there are problems with the ageing plant. That’s hardly a surprise. I’ve worked there for 30 years and there hasn’t been a brass farthing spent on the place in any real sense for decades. You might say it looks like those particular chickens are coming home to roost.”
Both Walker and Clarke remain unconvinced by the firm’s suggestions of redeploying workers to other sites.
“It may not be a viable option for workers at the Cambuslang site to be redeployed because of the distances involved to the other sites run by the company in Scotland, while workers in the West Midlands who keep their job face disruption and uncertainty,” reported Clarke.
“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. The 2 Sisters Food Group needs to engage in the consultation constructively and be willing to listen to alternatives to site closures,” Clarke concluded.