Unite has vowed to fight the announced closure of a 2 Sisters plant in Cambuslang, Scotland as the union now seeks legal advice to stop up to 450 job losses.
In February, plans were first announced to consider closing the plant but not before an 8-week consultation period that would include input from Unite, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Minister for Business, MSPs and local MPs.
But last week (April 12) the firm announced abruptly that it would be closing the plant in August as it issued a letter to workers which read, “Despite everyone’s best efforts, we have not been able to find an alternative to the initial proposal to close the site.”
Unite strongly contests the idea that the firm explored every avenue to prevent closure.
“We asked the company for a further two weeks to go back to the Scottish Government and agencies to try and explore additional options,” explained Unite rep Scot Walker.
“The company turned that down flat,” he said. “They told us the factory was closing and that the consultation on that could not be extended.
“It has become clear that the company had already made its mind up to close the site prior to the consultation and consolidate all its cooked poultry in a single site in East Anglia.”
Walker added that Unite will “continue to fight for the best outcome possible for our members.”
In the meantime, 2 Sisters workers face an uncertain future — some have worked for decades for the poultry processing plant which was been in operation for more than 30 years. Staff are being asked to work till August after which they will face redundancy.
One worker, James Paterson, who has worked at the 2 Sisters plant for 20 years, told the Daily Record that the company was “holding workers to ransom” by making them stay on until August despite confirming closure last week.
Another worker, Geraldine Saunders, who has spent 5 years working on the site called the news “devastating”.
“I know whole families living under the one roof who are set to lose their jobs,” Saunders said in the Daily Record. “The trouble with working to August is that we will all be looking for jobs at the same time, just before the run up to Christmas.”
The news of the plant closure 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.