Britvic workers set for strike vote over redundancy payouts at Norwich factory | Norfolk Business Awards 2018 | EDP Business Awards

Workers at Britvic’s Norwich factory could strike over redundancy pay

Britvic is to leave Norwich by late 2019. Picture: ANDREW STONE
Britvic is to leave Norwich by late 2019. Picture: ANDREW STONE

Workers at Britvic could strike over the redundancy payments offered to those affected by the closure of its Norwich factory.

Bottles on the Britvic production line in Norwich 

Picture: James BassBottles on the Britvic production line in Norwich Picture: James Bass

Union GMB, which has nearly 150 members at the Bracondale factory, has told the Robinsons squash maker it is to ballot on industrial action with employees unhappy at the package being offered, with some having been with the company for more than 30 years.

The drinks manufacturer confirmed plans to leave Norwich at the end of last year, putting 220 jobs at risk, with the move scheduled for late 2019.

The decision also sparked site neighbour Unilever to follow suit by moving its historic Colman’s Mustard production from the Carrow Works site.

READ: Union claims Britvic failed to "consult meaningfully" with staff over Norwich factory closure



GMB regional officer Ivan Mercer said the Norwich factory had been "the most efficient and productive" in the group with workers feeling they had been "cut adrift" by the brand they had helped to build.

"Members feel that to just be cast aside by Britvic is unacceptable," he said.

"Members feel that some loyalty and recognition from Britvic should be shown to them and that the company should sit with their trade union to negotiate an acceptable redundancy package to prevent the need to take strike action and cause any harm to the Robinsons brand that they understandably have pride in."

Mr Mercer added Unilever had offered a more lucrative package to its employees with workers who had been at Unilever half the time of some of those at Britvic receiving double their payouts.

A Britvic spokesman said: "We understand this is a difficult time for our colleagues at Norwich and are hugely grateful for the dedication they are continuing to show. As we have previously said, we are committed to offering every impacted Britvic employee a full package of support and this includes an enhanced redundancy package, following the collective consultation process with employee representatives including the GMB and Unite unions which closed on December 14."

The news of the ballot came as Britvic announced its interim results which revealed it is facing £21.6m costs as a result of the move from Norfolk.

The Fruit Shoot maker saw a 4.5% rise in revenue, up to £733.2m for the 28 weeks to April 15 2018 compared to £701.3m the year before.

The group saw pre-tax profit fall from £50.1m to £41.8m in the six months to April 15.

A Britvic spokesman said: "We understand this is a difficult time for our colleagues at Norwich and are hugely grateful for the dedication they are continuing to show. As we have previously said, we are committed to offering every impacted Britvic employee a full package of support and this includes an enhanced redundancy package, following the collective consultation process with employee representatives including the GMB and Unite unions which closed on December 14."

Britvic’s decision to axe its factory sparked Unilever to announce the closure of its neighbouring Colman’s Mustard facility, which shared the Carrow Works site, putting a further 100 jobs at risk.

Britvic also wrote off £3.3m of debts owed by firms Palmer and Harvey and Conviviality which went into liquidation and administration respectively.

This newspaper led a campaign to keep both companies in Norwich.

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Palmer Harvey Britvic Britvic Unilever United Kingdom Norwich

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