Boparan slammed over 128 Bernard Matthews job losses
Published:  06 April, 2017

Workers at Bernard Matthews’ Great Witchingham plant “feel betrayed and let down” by Boparan Private Office following the confirmation of job losses at the site, according to workers’ union Unite. 

Overall, 128 jobs are going to be lost – 69 chicken production roles and 59 managerial roles.

The 69 chicken production jobs are at the south site at the company’s headquarters at Great Witchingham, Norfolk. The other job losses are managerial, technical and clerical staff.

Unite regional officer Steve Harley said: “We are obviously disappointed by the announcement that the new owners will cease all-year-round chicken production at Great Witchingham.

“Our members, who met senior representatives of the 2 Sisters Food Group during the transition period, feel very let down, as these representatives indicated that investment would secure existing jobs and there was also the opportunity to attract more chicken business to the site, so utilising existing spare capacity. This has clearly not happened and, therefore, many of those workers feel betrayed as they consider they were misled.”

It had been reported earlier in the year that up to 155 jobs would be lost.

“That said, Unite has worked closely with the management to minimise the number of redundancies within our bargaining unit and some redundancies were avoided due to redeployment across other parts of the business,” added Harley. “Unite accepted that difficult decisions needed to be made as the firm needs to return to profit, but we will fight to ensure that cost reductions are not simply about reducing the workforce headcount.

“Bernard Matthews has clearly suffered greatly from a lack of business strategy under the previous owners, Rutland Partners, and we remain hopeful that 2 Sisters will work closely with Unite to ensure both profitability and job security are treated as equal priorities.”

Bernard Matthews was acquired in September 2016 in a pre-pack administration deal by Boparan Private Office, parent company of 2 Sisters Food Group. When the deal was agreed, the 2,000 existing jobs were claimed to have been secured.

A Bernard Matthews spokesman said: “We have completed the process and explored all options available to us to mitigate job losses.

“After discussion with colleagues and union representatives the decision was taken to cease production of chicken and to restructure head office.

“These changes will enable the business to focus on what we’re best at and allow us to make things happen with agility and pace.”