Workers learning of factory closure via media is 'disgraceful' say union

There's are fears for up to 120 jobs at a cider factory in Somerset. Credit: ITV West Country

120 workers at Shepton Mallet Cider learning about the planned closure of the site from media reports is ‘disgraceful, discourteous and Dickensian’ say Unite.

There's are fears for up to 120 jobs at a cider factory in Somerset after widespread media reported that the business, which has been operating since 1770, was to close.

However Unite reps at the Kilver Street plant weren't being briefed until hours afterwards.

It is disgraceful and Dickensian that this dedicated and loyal workforce should hear of the closure through the media. It was only this afternoon – hours later – that the shop stewards and workers were informed that the plant was closing. This is an unacceptable way to behave in the workplace in 2016. We know our members work for a Dickensian and inflexible employer, which puts company profit for shareholders and company directors first and foremost. The company has used the media in a cynical way to pave the way for this bad news – our members deserved much better. There has been more than 240 years of cider production at Shepton Mallet a ta workplace that is synonymous with historic cider production in the south west - and now this is coming to an end. This is a grievous blow to the workforce, their families, the town and the Somerset economy. >

Steve Preddy, Unite regional coordinating officer

Production at Shepton Mallet Cider Mill has been under review for more than a year. Now, there are reports its parent company wants to move cider production to its plant in Ireland.

Local MP James Heappey has complained about the lack of information.

The Somerset operation makes the well-known cider brands of Blackthorn and Olde English.

The plant is expected to close in the late summer with the canning, bottling and kegging production lines moving to sites in Ireland.

The company has declined to comment.