Bakery closure will have ‘massive effect’

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A UNION representing 84 workers at an under-threat bakery says the proposed closure will have a “massive impact” on the community.

Warburtons’ Brinwell Road factory in Marton is entering a 90-day consultation period, but workers have been told their jobs are set to be axed.

Staff could go shortly before Christmas if the consultation fails, but Geoff Atkinson, organising regional secretary for the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, says he is working hard to keep the site open.

He told The Gazette: “It’s going to have a massive impact on the community but at this moment in time my objective is to save jobs.

“The BFAWU feels the decision to increase VAT has had an influence, as workers have suffered from pay freezes and been hit with higher taxes.

“The spending power of ordinary people has been significantly reduced, affecting their budgets for even the most basic of items, 
including food.

“We have witnessed the almost nationwide emergence of foodbanks, high levels of job insecurity and an army of exploited, unemployed people providing free labour to big companies and other organisations as part of the government’s Workfare programme.

“The food industry is now engaged in a race to the bottom, which puts us in a very difficult place as a country.”

If the Brinwell Road site is closed it will be the second closure of a North West Warburtons factory this year.

Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, claims the closure of Warburtons will take away £1m from the Fylde coast’s economy.

And Hugh Evans, policy director at the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Trade, says a huge company deciding to leave the resort could harm other traders.

He added: “Blackpool is a low cost place to set up a businesses and if big companies like Warburtons are choosing to move away then it could be damaging for the economy and I hope it’s just a one off.

“If it’s closing purely on costs, Blackpool is a very cost-effective place and the message they are sending out could be dangerous for the town.”

One worker at the factory has described his disappointment at the closure after the workforce were informed of the owner’s decision on Wednesday morning.

The man, who declined to be named, said: “It’s a shame because they’ve been good for me over the 15 years I’ve been here.

“It’s been on the cards for the last three months but it’s still a shock for everyone to find out they are going at once.”