2 Sisters’ planned 630 job cuts sparks union ‘plan’

Unite said it would try to save as many jobs as possible at 2 Sisters' Smethwick factory

The Unite union has pledged to mitigate the impact of 2 Sisters’ 630 planned job cuts at its West Midlands chicken plant, by devising a plan to save as many jobs as possible.

About 630 jobs were put at risk by 2 Sisters’ proposal to close the “ageing” Smethwick factory. But, Unite said it would be investigating redeployment opportunities throughout the business, in an attempt to save jobs. The union will meet with 2 Sisters management on April 21 to present its plan.

Unite national officer for food Julia Long said: “This announcement has been devastating news for the company’s workforce at the Smethwick site and their families. Unite is offering our members maximum support at this very difficult time.

‘Devastating news’

“We had a positive and constructive meeting with the company’s management today [April 10], and have made a commitment to prepare a set of proposals to save as many jobs as possible. One of the areas we will be investigating to mitigate job losses is redeployment across the firm’s other operations in the West Midlands, as it was made clear that the Smethwick site will close.”

The union wouldn’t say how many jobs it expected to save ahead of its meeting with management later this month. It promised to achieve “the best outcome possible in terms of future employment opportunities” during the 45-day consultation period, it said.

The factory – exclusively a chicken cutting processor – has 630 workers, of which 530 are Unite members, the union said.

2 Sisters revealed its plans to close the factory on April 9, claiming the facility was “ageing and had significant challenges to meet the standards required by ourselves and our customers”.

‘Plans to close the factory’

The manufacturer said it would be searching for redeployment opportunities within the West Midlands, and the wider company.

A 2 Sisters statement at the time read: “We can confirm we are consulting with colleagues about a proposal to cease production at our poultry processing site in Smethwick, and as a result the site could close.

“We do not take this decision lightly and fully understand the impact if this proposal goes ahead. This is why we will offer affected colleagues up to 200 roles currently at our West Midlands locations, which we will convert from agency to permanent roles.”

2 Sisters – owner of the Goodfella’s Pizza and Fox’s Biscuits brands – said it would work to ensure options for staff were fully explored before any final decision would be made about whether to close the factory.

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