Nestle today confirmed its factory at Fawdon near Newcastle, which produced Fruit Pastilles, will close by the end of 2023 with 475 jobs at risk.
Meanwhile 98 members of staff at its York KitKat factory have been told their jobs will be subject to a consultation as it invests £20.2m into the facility, a process The Yorkshire Post understands will result in less requirement for manual processes. Once completed Nestle said the factory would be able to produce half a million additional two finger KitKats per day.
A further £9.2m of investment is planned for its factory in Halifax which is set to absorb much of the work done in the North East, No job cuts are planned for Halifax as yet and Nestle would not rule out the creation of roles as the two year process unfolds.
The move has been condemned by unions the GMB and Unite who described the cuts as "sickening" given that workers had remained in the factory during the pandemic,
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.”
Joe Clarke, Unite National Officer for the Food and Drink Industry, said: “The news about Nestle’s plans for its respective sites in Newcastle and York is a cruel body blow to the dedicated workforces, their families and, more widely, the regional economies.
“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."
A Nestle 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 do not underestimate the impact that the closure of Fawdon factory would have on the local area and, as part of the consultation, we want to work with the local community to find ways that we can support the area and our employees if these proposals were to go ahead.
"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.
"The City of York is the proud home of our confectionery business where Nestlé has invested more than half-a-billion pounds over the last three decades. The site’s main office building,
Nestlé House, is currently undergoing a £9m refurbishment.
"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.
"Our Halifax factory has operated at the same site for well over a century and, under these proposals, would become even more important to our operation with an overall increase in
"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."