Unions call for Nestlé to ‘export chocolate not jobs’
Nestlé announces plans to move production of its famous Blue Riband bar from the UK to Poland, resulting in almost 300 job losses.
Chocolate giant, Nestlé, has been criticised by unions after announcing plans to move the production of its iconic Blue Riband bar from the UK to Poland. Following more than 80 years of British production, the popular wafer-chocolate bar will now be manufactured in Kargowa, Poland at a factory that Nestlé cites as a “centre of excellence for this type of wafer-based product”.
Nestlé has cited greater efficiency and the ability to “remain competitive in a rapidly changing external environment” as the main driving factors behind its decision, and it forms part of a larger drive by the company to reduce costs in Europe, the Middle East and Mediterranean markets by 2019.
Nestlé’s decision to move production to Poland is expected to lead to the loss of almost 300 UK jobs, primarily across the company’s current production sites in York, Halifax, Fawden in North East England, and Girvan in Scotland.
The Brexit Effect
It is feared by some experts that this decision by Nestlé is an early effect of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. Back in August, the Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, warned that Brexit could lead to the loss of more than 250,000 jobs over the next few years as companies contend with the devaluation of the pound and the prospect of weaker output and higher import costs. Indeed, there have already been warning signs that firms could move production elsewhere, with Ford announcing plans to cut jobs at its plant in Bridgend in South Wales.
As road freight to Poland and other eastern European countries becomes ever more efficient, it’s quite possible that we will see other companies follow the example of Nestlé and Ford as the impacts of Brexit begin to take effect.
Nestlé urged to ‘think again’
Unsurprisingly, trade unions GMB and Unite are critical of Nestlé’s proposals to switch production to Poland and have urged the company to reconsider the move.
Announcing the union’s intention to fight the plans, Unite’s national officer, Julia Long said,
“We will be campaigning to save as many jobs as possible and pressing Nestlé to think again about these plans which will see the loss of hundreds of jobs and the production of an iconic biscuit shipped to Poland. Rather than turning its back on its UK workforce, Nestlé should be investing in its UK operations and keeping production here at plants in the UK. We will be scrutinising the company’s business rationale for these job losses, and explore alternatives to its cut-and-run approach.”
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary added,
“Nestlé are throwing people’s lives, and those of their families, into turmoil for the sake of increasing profit margins. These factories should be exporting chocolate – not people’s jobs. The government needs to step in before it’s too late and reassure millions of workers across the country this is not just the tip of the Brexit iceberg.”
Nestlé expects that the majority of job losses resulting from the move will be achieved through voluntary redundancies, and the company is currently in the middle of a 45 day consultation with trade unions and employee representatives.