NEARLY 600 jobs are at risk of being axed at two of Nestle's UK factories.
The confectionery brand has put forward proposal that would see its Fruit Pastilles factory in Fawdon, near Newcastle, close at the end of 2023.
The plans would also make a raft of job cuts at its York factory, where KitKats are made, to make manufacturing "more efficient".
The move will put 573 jobs at risk in total – 475 jobs in Newcastle and 98 in York.
The chocolate and sweets brand says the cuts are part of a £29.4million investment that will enable it to make a "higher volume
of products overall while operating a smaller number of factories".
Around £20.2million would be used to modernise the factory in York and increase KitKat production.
What are my redundancy rights?
BEFORE making you unemployed, your employer should still carry out a fair redundancy process.
You are entitled to be consulted on the redundancy lay-off first and to receive a statutory redundancy payment, as long as you've been working somewhere for at least two years.
How much you're entitled to depends on your age and length of service, although this is capped at 20 years. You'll get:
- Half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22,
- One week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41,
- One and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older.
Sadly, you won't be entitled to a payout if you've been working for your employer for fewer than two years.
There should be a period of collective consultation as well as time for individual ones if your employer wants to make 20 or more employees redundant within 90 days or each other.
You are also entitled to appeal the decision by claiming unfair dismissal within three months of being let go.
Meanwhile, £9.2million will be spent on improving a third site in Halifax so it can take on the majority of work from the closed down Fawden factory.
The plans are currently under consultation with staff, who were told this afternoon, and won't go ahead until the end of 2023 if approved.
A Nestle spokesperson said the brand "very much regrets the uncertainty" the announcement will cause workers and their families.
However, they added: "We believe that the business case behind these proposed changes is compelling and, ultimately, the best way to keep our business competitive in the long term…
"There is now the time and the space for all parties to engage in a constructive consultation around today’s proposals and we welcome those."
Ross Murdoch, national officer at workers' union GMB, said: "To ruin hundreds of lives in a ruthless pursuit of profits, to the very workers who've kept the company going during a global pandemic, is sickening."
Joe Clarke, Unite national officer for the food and drink industry union, added: "The fact these announcements have come during a global pandemic is particularly bitter and heartless.
"Unite will be liaising closely with the GMB union to strongly campaign against these misguided plans whose only motive seems to be increasing profits.
"We will also be giving maximum support to our members and their families in the coming weeks and months."
It's not the only firm to announce job cuts. Earlier this month, Asda said it would axe 1,200 jobs at its bakeries under major restructuring plans.
John Lewis has also put 1,500 jobs at risk when it decided not to reopen eight of its stores after the third coronavirus lockdown.
Meanwhile, unemployment in the UK has hit 813,000 Brits since the start of the pandemic.
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