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Britvic's consultation labelled a 'sham' as union members fear future of Norwich factory already a 'done deal'

PUBLISHED: 19:15 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:37 23 October 2017

Entrance to the Norwich Britvic factory.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Entrance to the Norwich Britvic factory. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Britvic's consultation over the future of its Norwich factory has been labelled a "sham" by union members.

Britvic has announced plans to close its factory in Bracondale, Norwich, which employs 242 people. Picture: Nick ButcherBritvic has announced plans to close its factory in Bracondale, Norwich, which employs 242 people. Picture: Nick Butcher

GMB union representatives said online adverts for positions at Britvic’s other factories indicated that the firm had already made its decision.

At a meeting on Thursday, members also highlighted a food packaging firm’s tweet which said it was helping Britvic “grow” with two new processing lines.

Britvic has repeatedly said no decisions will be made about its Norwich factory until a full consultation is carried out.

More than 240 jobs could be at risk should the company move its Robinsons and Fruit Shoot production to other sites in London, Leeds and Rugby.

Tetra Pak's post on Twitter which said it was helping said it was  Britvic “grow” with two new processing lines. Photo: TwitterTetra Pak's post on Twitter which said it was helping said it was Britvic “grow” with two new processing lines. Photo: Twitter

Ivan Mercer, GMB regional organiser, said: “We think it is a done deal. The consultation process is meant to be a two way thing, but the fact we are still in consultation and Tetra Pak tweet they are putting two new production units in for Britvic means they [Britvic] must know what production units they need and where they are going to go.”

Tetra Pak has since said the tweet, which has been deleted, was referring to the lines delivered in 2016.

Mr Mercer also highlighted that the company was advertising for new positions in Rugby.

In one advert, seen by this newspaper, the firm said it was investing more than £50m in its Rugby plant.

A Britvic spokesman said the investment in its Rugby plant had previously been announced and was “completely unrelated” to the Norwich site proposals.

The meeting heard how Britvic had also outlined its first wave of redundancies, which could begin in June 2018.

Mr Mercer said a total of 39 people will be affected, including 20 agency staff and 13 people on fixed-term contracts.

A previously leaked consultation document from Britvic said the closure of the Norwich site could save between £11m to £14m.

It led to GMB members putting forward a counter proposal this month on how the Bracondale site could be made even more profitable.

However, Mr Mercer said it had since been rejected by the company.

Labour’s Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, who was present at the meeting, said he would seek to get a third-party expert involved to scrutinise Britvic’s savings plan.

He said: “We can say to them, you have your figures, we can pass them to a third-party confidentially, they will look at your figures and come out with an independent assessment of the savings you want to make.”

A Britvic spokesman said: “Our investment in Rugby has been previously announced and is completely unrelated to the proposal to close the Norwich site.

“The Rugby vacancies advertised are also unrelated to the proposal and are in relation to the normal running of our Rugby site, as would be expected due to employee turnover.

“However, at the request of the employee representatives, we have put a freeze on all vacancies during the collective consultation.”



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