The Blue Riband brand has been made in Britain since 1936 and is mainly consumed by UK customers. This means that, should production be moved to Eastern Europe, it will have to be exported back to the UK market!
Nestlé has denied the decision is related to Brexit and has said that, following the move, these sites will operate more efficiently and remain competitive in a rapidly-changing external market environment. Perhaps in a bid to provide some comfort to its soon-to-be unemployed employees, a spokesperson for the confectionary giant has stated that “Nestle UK appreciates that this is an uncertain time for employees and will work hard to ensure all are supported through this difficult period.”
The proposed changes will also include amended and standardised shift patterns at each factory and to simplify and focus operation – the Company has not provided any other detail.
The news comes shortly after the drinks company, Diageo, announced that it will be cutting 100 jobs in Scotland (due to Brexit concerns). Pepsico has said that 380 jobs are at risk as it completes preparations to shut its Walkers Peterlee factory. Unions have warned that such companies are using Brexit as an excuse to cut jobs and take advantage of workers’ lack of employment rights.
Tim Roache, general secretary at GMB (the union that represents some members at the affected Nestle sites) said: “To shift the production of an iconic British brand like Blue Riband to Poland is completely unacceptable. These factories should be exporting chocolate – not people’s jobs."
If the cuts do go ahead, they will take place over the next two years and Nestlé has said that it is hoping the job losses will be achieved through voluntary redundancies. Whether this is the case, one thing is for sure; the government should make every effort to reassure workers that this move is not the “tip of the Brexit iceburg”.