Thousands of jobs at risk as food company is up for sale

Llangefni plant
Over three hundred staff work at the the site in Llangefni Photo: ITV Wales News

Over 3,300 workers at meat and poultry processing plants in Wales face an uncertain future whilst a buyer is sought. Dutch-owned Vion NV is selling its UK businesses in order to focus on "core markets" in the Netherlands and Germany and develop its "global ingredients business".

However the company said it was confident of finding a viable buyer.

However, while discussions have been held with interested buyers it’s still early days in terms of the sale process so we can’t comment at present on individual sites

– Spokesperson for VION NV

However the Unite union is demanding assurances over jobs as a condition for any new buyer

Just as Christmas approaches, Vion decides to announce a major sell-off creating massive uncertainty for thousands of UK staff. It's time for management to sit down with the union and discuss its plans for the future. We believe the workforce deserves assurances on job security and that any new buyer commits to maintaining current UK employment levels.

In the current economic climate finding alternative employment will be near impossible for many of the workers. Vion and any new buyer have a duty to give the workforce security and a future.**

**

– Unite national officer Julia Long

The company employs workers at several sites across Wales. The biggest plants are in Merthyr Tydfil and Sandycroft in Flintshire where over 1,300 staff work at each site. More than 300 workers are employed at Welsh Country Foods in Gaerwen and a further 300 in a poultry processing plant in Llangefni. The company also has sites at Bryn Du, Llay and Wrexham.

Farmers who supply the company are also concerned about the future.

These sales announcements make me very nervous, especially about supplying stock to them. It knocks our confidence. If they can't sell it they'll liquidate it, and if there are debts there - should we supply products to them?

– Edward Rees, supplier of livestock to Vion at Merthyr

The Welsh government has said they will work to help any buyers of the site.