Nearly 100 jobs are to be lost at the Nestle site in York in a “bitter and heartless” move by the confectionery company.
The company is to slash almost 600 jobs overall across the York and Newcastle sites where Kit Kats and Fruit Pastilles are produced.
The confectionery giant, the biggest food producer in the world, has announced the cuts today (Wednesday).
To get the latest email updates from Yorkshire Live/brand as appropriate, click here .
The decision has sparked outrage by union bosses and York Central MP Rachel Maskell, who are all urging the company to rethink their decision.
The company’s site in Fawdon, near Newcastle, which produces fruit pastilles, will close at the end of 2023, costing 475 jobs, while changed working practices at the York site, which produces Kit Kats, site will see 98 losses.
In total 573 roles have been lined up to be cut.
Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer, said: “To ruin hundreds of lives in a ruthless pursuit of profits, to the very workers who’ve kept the company going during a global pandemic, is sickening.
“Nestle is the largest food producer in the world, with astronomical profits. It can afford to treat workers right.
“Instead, they’ve allowed factories to deteriorate, outsourced production overseas and now slashed 600 jobs.
“It’s corporate greed at its worst – GMB and Unite will fight for every job.”
Enter your postcode below to find jobs near you
Joe Clarke, Unite National Officer for the Food and Drink Industry, said the move was “a cruel body blow to the dedicated workforces, their families and, more widely, the regional economies”.
He said: “We will be asking for an urgent meeting with the management to ascertain the business rationale for these decisions from a multi-national company which is highly profitable.
“The fact these announcements have come during a global pandemic is particularly bitter and heartless.
“Unite will be liaising closely with the GMB union to strongly campaign against these misguided plans whose only motive seems to be increasing profits.
“We will also be giving maximum support to our members and their families in the coming weeks and months.”
A spokesperson for Nestle said the cuts were part of a “£29.4 million investment” at the factories in York and Halifax.
The spokesperson said: “Nestlé Confectionery has an ambitious business strategy in the UK and these proposals are intended to support our long-term success in an increasingly competitive category.
“The proposed changes would create a more efficient manufacturing footprint and, in turn, allow greater strategic investment in Nestlé’s biggest confectionery brands.
“We have chosen to announce these proposals as early as possible to provide the maximum time for consultation with our colleagues and trade unions.
“We will make sure those affected are properly supported throughout this consultation process.”
Enter your postcode for the weather forecast for your area
Mrs Maskell, MP for York Central, said the decision was “an immense shock to York’s Nestle workers” who had “been there for the company throughout this last difficult year”
She said: “Nestle’s decision to shed jobs in order to make greater profits, at a time like this, will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of people across York.
“Investment in infrastructure is always welcome, but slashing jobs instead of redeploying people elsewhere in the business is a waste of talent.
“Long gone are the days when Rowntree’s sought to be the mainstay of manufacturing in the city, providing economic and social purpose. Nestle today are more interested in creaming off a profit for its hedge fund managers than supporting workers and their families.”
Enter your postcode to see local issues near you
The proposed plans include a £20.2 million investment at the York factory to “modernise and increase production of KitKat in the city where the brand was first created in 1935”
They say there are also plans to invest £9.2 million at Halifax to “equip the factory to take on the largest portion of Fawdon’s current production”.
The spokesperson said: “If these proposals go ahead, we would expect, in future, to be manufacturing a higher volume of products overall while operating a smaller number of factories.
“We believe these proposals would strengthen the UK’s position as a critically important hub for Nestlé Confectionery and home to the expert manufacture of many of our most popular brands including KitKat, Aero and Quality Street.”
Enter your postcode to see which businesses are delivering near you
York is the “home” of Nestlé and the site’s main office building, Nestlé House, is currently undergoing a £9m refurbishment.
A spokesperson said: “York is also the base for Nestlé Confectionery’s global R&D centre which develops products for markets all over the world.
“A new manufacturing line was added to the centre in 2020 as part of a £4m investment.”
Under the proposals the Halifax factory “would become even more important to our operation with an overall increase in production volumes”.
The spokesperson said: “We believe that the business case behind these proposed changes is compelling and, ultimately, the best way to keep our business competitive in the long term.
“Nevertheless, we very much regret the uncertainty this announcement will cause our people and their families and we want to make sure they are supported throughout this process.
“There is now the time and the space for all parties to engage in a constructive consultation around today’s proposals and we welcome those discussions.”