Tulip angers union by closing Wirral plant

Tulip has confirmed that it has stopped work at its troubled Birkenhead factory, in a move that has angered the trade union Unite.

Tulip, which bought the former Tranfoods factory in November, has been in consultation with the 218 employees at the plant since January, following the announcement that it was unable to address a number of operational and technical issues at the loss-making facility.

Today, it announced that it had been working to address these, but this had proved more difficult than expected.

Peter Judge, chief operating officer at Tulip, said: “There have been a number of operational issues with the Abbey Street site, which has meant we have had to take the very difficult decision to cease all production as from today.

“Although everyone at Tranfoods has been working very hard, the operational difficulties have proven to be far greater than first envisaged and have left us with no viable option other than to cease production.

“Our priority now will be to find ways in which to lessen the impact of today’s decision and we will be working closely with everyone at the site.”

However Unite has claimed that the meat company closed the plant early and reneged on an earlier redundancy deal. It said that Tulip had informed the workers by letter that Unite had agreed to the proposed closure and accepted in principle to immediately end production, a position denied by the union.

Unite regional officer Franny Joyce said: “Instead of doing the right thing for its loyal workforce, Tulip is doing everything it can to divert attention away from its vulture-like behaviour and the attempt to renege on a previously agreed redundancy deal.

“Since Tulip acquired Tranfoods in December last year, it is clear that the company has made no attempt to keep the site open. Instead, it has been putting all the efforts into removing the meat from the site, leading to business closure and job losses.

“During the consultation process, we have had to discuss the difficult economic situation we face, but to claim publicly that this means we have reached an agreement is a smokescreen to divert attention away from their behaviour.

“This site has provided products to all the leading supermarkets, including Tesco, for over 30 years. To be treated this way – despite all the workers’ best efforts – is scandalous and needs resolving immediately.

“It’s time Tulip did the right thing and honour previous commitments, and return to the negotiating table.”

>Tulip to close Wirral plant

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