Pressure to stem eroding profits has led Weetabix to place up to 60 jobs across its industrial hygiene departments at risk.
The move follows a decision in April to consult staff over planned cuts to pay and working hours.
The cereal business confirmed it would be bringing in an external firm to carry out industrial cleaning at its Burton Latimer and Corby sites this autumn and said it was separate to April’s announcement.
A spokesman said: “Following a tender process it is our intention to appoint an external specialist cleaning company this autumn.
’Strong working relationships’
“Employees affected by this change will transfer to the new supplier,” said the spokesman.
“Weetabix has a strong working relationship with all of its trade unions and our colleagues at our Burton Latimer and Corby sites. We are currently consulting with employees affected by this,” he added.
A Union Shop of Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) spokesman told local media last week that the union was speaking with Weetabix bosses about the decision.
“Following the announcement last Thursday, Usdaw representatives will be entering into a full and meaningful transfer of undertakings consultation process with Weetabix, as a consequence of their decision to outsource the industrial hygiene specialist department,” he said.
Only three months ago, Weetabix told FoodManufacture.co.uk it was involved in discussions with its 2,000 UK employees to make changes to shift patterns and pay, but wouldn’t be “drawn into making conclusions”.
Savings of millions of pounds
Discussions with employees are still ongoing, a spokesman confirmed today (July 14), but it was hoped they would result in savings of millions of pounds, while avoiding redundancies.
Reports at the time alleged staff at the Northamptonshire-based firm would see a 2.5% pay rise scrapped, as well as a reduction in premium rate pay and fewer weekend and night shifts.
The announcements last week and in April followed calls from unions to safeguard jobs at Weetabix two years ago, when 60% of the company was sold to Chinese firm Bright Food by London private equity firm Lyon Capital.
After the acquisition, Bright Food stated it would look to develop and grow the business, which would lead to “greater security”.
At the time, Usdaw and Unite the Union said: “We have spoken to Weetabix to seek assurances about our members’ jobs and conditions of service and have been assured by the company that it is very much business as usual.”