BLACKPOOL MP Gordon Marsden has held emergency talks with bosses and workers at Warburtons bakery over the future of the workforce.
The family-run firm wants to close the Brimwell Road, Marton, plant which specialises in making bread rolls and has blamed “continued challenging economic environment and changing demands on the business” for the decision.
The 84 workers are in a 90-day consultation period over redundancies and Mr Marsden said he was seeking assurances about any redundancy process and possible relocation of jobs.
He said it was important that this time was used to explore every possible angle for the staff.
He added: “I had a meeting with the regional director and his managers from Warburtons and with representatives from the bakers’ union and I pressed the management on three areas.
“Firstly, if the closure is to go ahead, on the possibility of redeploying staff, the company has sites in Burnley and Bolton. I also asked if they could give assurances about the distribution depot at Squires Gate and thirdly if there was a way of improving the redundancy terms beyond the statutory requirements.
“The staff are now entering consultations with the company which has promised to look at relocating staff to other sites where possible. A number of people have worked there for 15 to 20 years and these are good workers and the company has assured me that they intend to recognise that by upping redundancy payments.
“The company is bringing on site people to advise on pensions, careers and other things. Blackpool council will also be working with them.
“The site is operational and I put it to management that if some other company came forward they would consider any reasonable offer to sell the site. They said they would keep an open mind.”
If that occurred it would mean a chance for the workers to retain their jobs.
Mr Marsden said: “The site is a large and important one for Blackpool and its closure would leave a significant gap which everyone would want to see filled with another business. It is a significant blow to our economy.”
He said the company had assured him the distribution centre would not be affected.
However, the company said it had not made any new commitments following the meeting.
Jonathan Warburton, chairman and chief executive officer, said: “As a family business this is a very difficult announcement to make but we must always act as a responsible business and be prepared to take tough decisions, at the right time, to ensure Warburtons remains competitive.
“The last year has been particularly challenging due to a number of factors including increased pressure on household budgets and an increasingly competitive market. The proposed changes are designed to make our manufacturing operations more efficient which will help us better meet the demands of our customers and consumers.
“We appreciate how tough a period this is for our employees in Blackpool and we will work closely with them to discuss our proposal and explore all options.”