Fighting to save factory jobs

The Moy Park plant in Wisbech.
The Moy Park plant in Wisbech.
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A union official has accused Wisbech food manufacturer Moy Park of deliberately stripping the plant’s profitable elements over the past 18 to 24 months leaving it vulnerable to job cuts and even closure.

And Mark Plumb, of Unite, also accused Fenland Council of being more concerned at retaining minimum operations on the site in order to keep business rates coming in rather than stopping the potential loss of 314 jobs.

He said morale at the factory in Mount Pleasant Avenue is at an all time low with staff genuinely fearful of the future and what Moy Park’s proposal to relocate the poultry side of the business to other sites ill mean for them.

Mr Plumb, who was not invited to a meeting between Moy Park bosses and council chiefs last week, said the workforce had recognised the slow removal of the profitable element from the Wisbech plant for some time leaving it below capacity and volume in terms of what it produces.

He said he Wisbech workers were extremely loyal with many working there for more than 20 years and the chances of more than five per cent of them taking up the option of relocating to alternative sites in Anwick near Spalding and Grantham were practically nil.

He said the workforce feels betrayed by Moy Park as there was no warning that the company was even conducting a review. The impact the proposal will have on those affected and Wisbech as a whole will be catastrophic.

“Many of the workers have been with Moy Park since they left school 20 or 30 years ago. The only interview they have ever had is for their current job all those years ago and they are not looking forward to being thrust into the open jobs market, particularly in these difficult economic times when the country is facing a triple dip recession,” said Mr Plumb.

The union will continue to fight to keep as many of the jobs in Wisbech as possible, but the sliced meat side of the business, which is being retained in Wisbech and largely focuses on corned beef, already struggles to run for three-and-a-half days a week,” said Mr Plumb.

He fears that once Moy Park has relocated the poultry production to the other sites, it will not be long before the entire Wisbech site is facing closure.

“It is easier to shed 300 jobs but retain a workforce of 30 on the site than it is to announce 330 job cuts and complete closure of the site. We will do everything we can to ensure Moy Park remains in Wisbech with as many jobs as possible and to get enough volume going through to make a profit not just for the company but for the workers so they can continue with their normal lives,” he added.