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GMB members at Britvic factory start 18 days of strike action over redundancy pay

PUBLISHED: 15:24 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:11 02 August 2018

Francesca and Martin Hart taking part in strike action outside the Britvic factory in Norwich. Picture: Sabrina Johnson

Francesca and Martin Hart taking part in strike action outside the Britvic factory in Norwich. Picture: Sabrina Johnson

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Workers at Britvic's Norwich factory have spoken about their anger at the site's closure as they start 18 days of strike action.

Members of the union GMB gathered at the entrance to the Britvic factory, at Carrow Works, on Wednesday morning, in a bid to encourage bosses from the company to meet with them to negotiate a better redundancy package for workers.

Among the protestors were Martin and Francesca Hart, who both face losing their jobs when the factory closes in 2019.

Mr Hart, 48, who has worked at the site for 23 years, said: “I’m very angry about the unfairness of the whole thing - they didn’t need to close the site down and when they did the redundancy package they offered was an enhancement but only on the bare minimum.

“We just feel like we have been discarded without a second thought.”

Mrs Hart, 55, explained the stress the imminent factory closure had caused: “It’s not just us, there are people throughout the factory who are struggling with work-related stress.

“I have put on two stone because I was comfort eating.”

Adding that she felt there had been little support, she said one of the contributing factors to the stress she and her colleagues felt was the lack of retraining they had received.

“There has been no support, by the time I leave I’m not going to be able to get a decent job.

“We are angry and despondent. We have built our lives around our jobs here and we both thought we would be working here until we retired.”

Ivan Mercer, GMB regional officer, said: “We’re here to get Britvic to talk to us about improving the redundancy package.

“We’ve had lots and lots of toots from people supporting us. We are hoping that tomorrow there will be more people striking.”

GMB members voted in favour of industrial action in June this year. Members will hold three days of strike action for six weeks totalling 18 days of action.

The decision to close the factory was made last December, a move which also prompted site neighbour Unilever to close its Colman’s Mustard factory.

In statement a spokesperson for Britvic said: “We understand this is a difficult time for our colleagues at Norwich and are hugely grateful for the dedication they are continuing to show.

“We are disappointed with the decision by the GMB to take industrial action. We acknowledge that the GMB is not satisfied with the proposed redundancy payments despite Britvic’s commitment to offer every impacted Britvic employee an enhanced redundancy package. This enhanced package is substantially larger than the amount we are legally obliged to pay, and we made this commitment in good faith following the collective consultation process with employee representatives, which included the GMB and Unite unions.

“We have always been happy to meet with the GMB but it will not achieve larger enhanced redundancy payments.”

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