Britvic workers told of job losses on same day as company Christmas dinner

PUBLISHED: 15:14 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:20 04 January 2018

Entrance to the Norwich Britvic factory. Picture: Nick Butcher

Entrance to the Norwich Britvic factory. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Workers at a Norwich factory were told they would be losing their jobs within hours of sitting down for their company Christmas lunch.

The EDP understands that more than 240 staff at the Britvic factory in Norwich were told the news on Friday, the same day they enjoyed a festive meal at their workplace.

The staff now face redundancy or a process to secure redeployment to one of the group’s other production centres – the nearest of which is more than 100 miles away in London.

It follows a two-month consultation between the company, its staff on the Carrow Works site and union representatives, which failed to secure a future for the firm in Norwich, where its Robinsons squash and Fruit Shoot brands are made.

Britvic has not make anyone available for interview.

The Unite union accused Britvic of trying to “bury bad news” when it made the announcement publicly on Friday afternoon.

Julia Long, the union’s national officer for the food and drink sector, said: “Unite will work tirelessly with all key stakeholders to see what can be done, even at this eleventh hour.

“We have about 32 engineering and maintenance members at the Britvic site and we will be providing maximum support and assistance to them in the difficult days and weeks ahead.

“We will be exploring with the company suitable redeployment opportunities within the Britvic group.”

A spokesman for the GMB union said it would not be commenting on the situation until the new year, when it plans to hold a meeting with members at the factory to decide their next course of action.

Meanwhile Unilever, which produces Colman’s Mustard on the same site on Bracondale, says its staff in Norwich will have to wait until the new year to learn whether it will also close its factory.

Options to keep the Colman’s brand in Norfolk have been mooted, including keeping Unilever at its current home, or moving it to sites already allocated for business use, including the Norwich Airport industrial estate or the Food Enterprise Zone at Honingham Thorpe.

A spokesman for New Anglia LEP said: “The LEP and its partners continue to work closely with the company to explore every option to keep the Colman’s brand and the jobs its production supports within Norfolk.”

Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy, who has the Unilever portfolio, said: “We will be redoubling our efforts in the next week to get more clarity as to the future of the Unilever part of the site.”

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