BAKERS at a Blackpool bread factory have been given devastating news – just days before Christmas.
Unions are currently in negotiation with bosses at Warburtons on Brinwell Road in a bid to save jobs – but they today they confirmed fears and revealed the factory is now scheduled to close on January 31.
The 84 workers at the plant, which produces bread rolls, have been going through a 90 day consultation period over redundancies. But they now face an unhappy New Year after being told of the factory’s fate.
The firm wants to close the Marton factory blaming the “continuing challenging economic environment and changing demands on the business”.
Geoff Atkinson, regional organising secretary of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers union said although the closure news was not a shock, it was still a major blow for the workers.
He said: “They are very upset. There are generations of families who have worked there for many years.
“At this time of year it is very tough, with Blackpool’s seasonal employment, they will find it hard to get jobs as good as those at Warburtons.”
He said the company need only have held a 30 day consultation but had opted for 90 days. He said that the company had also organised training for the affected staff running courses in maths, literacy, IT and even forklift truck driving to help their employment prospects after being made redundant.
“We have a final consultation on January 2, but it will be then the closure will be announced for January 31.
“There are some options for redeployment within Warburtons. We have had a couple of possibilities come up today at the distribution centre in Squires Gate.”
He said some staff were currently visiting the family firm’s other North West sites in Burnley and Bolton to see if redeployment there was a realistic option. And the Squires Gate distribution centre would continue to operate.
A worker, who did not want to be named, said: “It is a real shame. It’s been a worrying time. Some people are looking at moving to Burnley or Bolton but it is not possible for many of us.
“Nothing is official yet but we know it’s closing at the end of January.”
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “It is a sad day for Blackpool. We can ill afford to lose a solid manufacturing business like this.
“The blow is mitigated a little by the fact the company has a decent enhanced redundancy package and its efforts to help with retraining and relocations, but for many of the workers that will be no consolation as they try to find new jobs in the New Year.”
The company issued a statement today which said: “Warburtons is currently in a consultation process which continues until the end of December. Until then, no decision will be made on the future of the bakery.
‘While this process is under way, Warburtons will continue to work closely with its employees and their union representatives to ensure that all options are explored.”
At the time that the plans for closure were announced in September, Jonathan Warburton, chairman and chief executive officer, said: “As a family business this is a very difficult announcement to make. The last year has been particularly challenging.
“We appreciate how tough a period this is for our employees in Blackpool and we will work closely with them to explore all options.”