342 jobs are due to go at the biscuit facility on The Wirral, which produces Cadbury’s chocolate biscuits, by the end of 2011; Burton’s Foods plans to consolidate production at other sites in Edinburgh and Llantarnum from this spring.
In a statement prior to the meeting with Burton’s chief executive Ben Clarke and other board members (also attended by Wallasey MP Angela Eagle) the union said that job losses would cause further pain in an area where 22 people already chase every job.
Ritchie James, Unite regional officer, said: "It is absolutely tragic that these workers find themselves in this position. This plant, making popular products, has a loyal and committed workforce whose alternative plan to closure should be considered as a serious proposal.
James said it “speaks volumes” about the state of UK industry that despite these advantages Unite was meeting bosses to plead for the site’s survival. “But we are proud of what this plant has achieved and are convinced of its future,” he said.
"We will put our counter proposals to Mr Clarke and the Burtons’ board confident in our view that this plant can go from strength to strength and that closure must not be an option. We urge the board to give this case a chance, and give this workforce a chance."
Burton’s promises ‘detailed consideration’
A Burton’s spokesman said this morning that – 12 weeks into the consultation period regarding the firm’s proposals at the Moreton site – the firm would give “detailed consideration of the resulting counter proposal put forward by the trade union”.
“Burton's Foods will look at the proposal with an open mind following its [the counter proposal to closure’s] presentation to the company board on Friday," he said.
"We have worked responsibly, constructively and openly with Unite and will continue to do so throughout the consultation process. We will consider all elements of the counter proposal over the coming days and weeks."
Stressing cost pressures and the need to operate more efficiently, ceo Ben Clarke told FoodManufacture.co.uk in mid January that Moreton was “the smallest site with the highest cost base, which is why we have chosen it [for closure].”