International food giant Nestlé will close its Newcastle factory, forcing the loss of nearly 500 jobs and an extra 100 based in York.The company has announced that it will shut the former Rowntree plant at Fawdon, by the end of 2023. It is also cutting jobs at its York factory but consolidating its UK manufacturing at its York and Halifax sites.Nestlé said the proposed changes would “create a more efficient manufacturing footprint” and have been announced as early as possible to allow time for consultation with workers and unions.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne North MP Cat McKinnell is meeting with staff and unions tonight and said it was a blow for the whole community.
Unite Union says the move is "bitter and heartless" to cut so many jobs during the pandemic.
The National Officer for the GMB Union said: “It’s corporate greed at its worst – GMB and Unite will fight for every job.”
Chris Jukes from GMB Union said the announcement of the job cuts could have been handled better.
We will be asking for an urgent meeting with the management to ascertain the business rationale for these decisions from a multi-national company which is highly profitable. The fact these announcements have come during a global pandemic is particularly bitter and heartless.
Nestlé said: “Our Fawdon factory is home to many smaller, low-growth brands and maintains a diverse and complex mix of production techniques. In contrast, our factories at York and Halifax have clearer specialisms and manufacture some of Nestlé’s biggest brands.“The decision to propose Fawdon’s closure follows significant investment and a sustained effort by the factory team to reduce that complexity and introduce new products in recent years. The skilled and dedicated team at Fawdon have worked tirelessly to deliver those changes and these proposals are absolutely no reflection on their efforts.“If these proposals go ahead, we would expect, in future, to be manufacturing a higher volume of products overall while operating a smaller number of factories.
We do not underestimate the impact that the closure of Fawdon factory would have on the local area and, as part of the consultation, we want to work with the local community to find ways that we can support the area and our employees if these proposals were to go ahead.
As part of the plans, Nestlé said it would be investing £20.2m into its York site and £9.3m at Halifax.It said the business case behind the changes was “compelling” and would keep the company competitive in a challenging market.
Jobs were lost at the Fawdon plant in 2018 when production of Blue Riband biscuits was switched to Poland. The 73 redundancies were less than the 110 originally planned after the plant secured other work.