12 Feb 2018 --- UK chicken supplier 2 Sisters Food Group, which was at the center of a food hygiene scandal last year, has announced it plans to cut jobs and close three factories across Britain. A consultation period has been launched to close the 2 Sisters’ Cambuslang factory in Scotland in addition to its West Midlands sites in Smethwick and Wolverhampton. However, while 900 jobs will be affected by this move, the company has announced 1,000 new roles.
The food group, the largest supplier of chicken to UK-based retailers, has been in the spotlight since last September when news first broke that it was embroiled in a food safety breach.
British supermarkets were warned that they could be selling chicken past its sell-by date after an investigation found that the chicken supplier may have been tampering with food safety records. An investigation by The Guardian newspaper and ITV News recorded undercover footage of workers altering the slaughter date of poultry being processed at a 2 Sisters Food Group plant.
After the undercover footage initially emerged, the company, which is owned by so-called “chicken king” entrepreneur Ranjit Boparan, temporarily shut down the plant in West Bromwich last year.
A spokesperson for 2 Sisters responding by noting: “As we continue to build a better business, we are simplifying how we work and investing in the areas that can make the most positive difference to our UK poultry operations. This means that we will be creating up to 1,000 new roles within the poultry supply chain. However, we do have areas of significant challenge and regrettably, 900 roles will be at risk at three sites loss-making sites which we propose to close. Our focus now will be to support all affected colleagues and explore all alternative options available to us before making any final decisions.”
2 Sisters is creating new jobs at the following UK poultry sites: Willand, Devon (300 new roles); Site D, West Bromwich (potentially 400 new roles); Coupar Angus, Scotland (250 new roles); Llangefni, Anglesey (35 new roles); Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire (30 new roles). The sites currently in consultation around closure proposals are: Cambuslang (Scotland) – 450 colleagues; Site C (Smethwick) – 350 colleagues; Site E (Wolverhampton) – 100 colleagues.
However, Britain’s largest union, Unite said it would leave “no stone unturned” in the fight to save jobs and avert the closure of the three poultry plants.
According to the union, workers have been informed of the potential job losses and Unite will now enter into consultation with the company and press the case for investment and alternatives to the planned closures in a series of meetings over the coming weeks.
“These plans have caused a lot of uncertainty and dismay for the workers involved. Unite will be doing everything it can to support our members and secure their futures following this announcement,” said Unite national officer for food Joe Clarke.
“These plans will impact on communities and employment opportunities in Scotland and the West Midlands. Over the coming days and weeks, Unite will be pressing the case for jobs and investment to save the three sites from closure.”
“It may not be a viable option for workers at the Cambuslang site to be redeployed because of the distances involved to the other sites run by the company in Scotland, while workers in the West Midlands who keep their job face disruption and uncertainty.”
“Workers who have stuck with the company through thick and thin and worked hard to make it a success will inevitably feel a sense of betrayal. The 2 Sisters Food Group needs to engage in the consultation constructively and be willing to listen to alternatives to site closures.”
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