Job worries as Bakkavor Freshcook holds talks

Bakkavor Freshcook is ending late afternoon and nightshift work at its Holbeach St Marks site.
Bakkavor Freshcook is ending late afternoon and nightshift work at its Holbeach St Marks site.

More than 100 staff at Bakkavor Freshcook in Holbeach St Marks face an uncertain future after talks were opened about possible redundancies.

A 45-day consultation period with staff, management and union representatives began on Monday, with Freshcook blaming “changing and challenging trading conditions” for plans to end its late afternoon and nightshift operations.

It is thought to be partly as a result of Freshcook’s contract to supply Dine In meals to retailer Marks and Spencer being cancelled.

A Freshcook spokesman said: “Due to changing and challenging trading conditions, a period of consultation has started with a number of employees to discuss removing back shift and nightshift operations.

“As part of this process, the business is consulting with the 110 employees affected by the proposed restructuring with anticipation that the majority will move to the day shift, significantly reducing potential redundancies.

“The consultation process will last for 45 days during which time Freshcook will be working closely with Unite, the recognised union for the site, along with site employee representatives and will consider all proposals made on behalf of the company’s employees.

“The management of Freshcook understand that this is a very difficult time for the affected employees and would like to stress that this action is no reflection on the significant hard work undertaken and loyalty shown by staff in this tough economic environment.”

Holbeach county councillor Nick Worth said: “The food industry is remarkably resilient in these difficult economic times and South Holland District Council’s economic team will be working with its partners to assist anyone unfortunate enough to be made redundant.”

However there is better news for staff at Princes Foods’ site in Long Sutton, despite plans to move some of its canned food operations to another site.

A Princes UK spokesman said: “Canned ready meals represent only one area of our total canned food production at Long Sutton, where we continue to grow overall volumes, and we therefore do not envisage any redundancies.

“All employees currently responsible for ready meal production at the site will be transferred to suitable roles at Long Sutton or our neighbouring site in Wisbech.”

Phil Scarlett, president of Spalding and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “Princes Foods is a major employer in the Long Sutton area and I’m pleased that whilst they are restructuring, there are no redundancies at their business which continues to grow.”