Jobs under threat at Unilever factory
HUNDREDS of factory workers face losing their jobs as part of an overhaul of a consumer goods giant which proposes shutting down its Slough site.
Unilever, which has a factory in Bath Road, is considering closing a number of sites with the loss of up to 800 jobs, while investing £40m in its 'historic home' in Port Sunlight, Wirral, creating 150 new roles, the firm announced yesterday (Thursday).
The proposals include the closure of the Slough factory employing 250 members of staff as well as one in Swansea and a distribution site in Bridgend.
Staff at the Slough site, formerly Sara Lee, were called into an emergency meeting yesterday morning for the major announcement.
An employee, who did not want to be named, said: "Everyone is in complete despair. It's always difficult if someone is made redundant in this day and age, but there are a lot of people their with families who will find it really difficult."
The proposed changes, due to take effect by the end of 2013, could result in 500 direct UK lay-offs and around 300 contractor and third party job losses. Some jobs are also to be outsourced to Unilever's IT centre in Bangalore, India.
Amanda Sourry, chairman of Unilever UK and Ireland, said: "Like many companies today, Unilever faces the challenge of creating growth opportunities against a backdrop of very tough economic conditions in Europe.
"While Unilever is growing well in the UK and globally, it will always be necessary to make changes which raise our game and ensure our continued success. We believe these proposals would substantially strengthen our platform for long-term growth and competitiveness.
She added: "We understand that this period of uncertainty will cause concern for some of our employees who would be affected if changes were to be made, so we are fully committed to conducting all review and consultation processes properly and responsibly in order to provide clarity and certainty as soon as possible."
As one of the world's leading food companies, the firm owns brands including Ben & Jerry's, Flora and Wall's as well as home care brands such as Persil and Cif and personal care brands including Dove and Lynx.
The review of proposals is expected to conclude in the autumn.
This article appeared in Slough Observer 15 Jun 12