KP Snacks has confirmed the redundancies, which take effect this week following consultations launched in September linked to plans to shut the site in July.
The company originally warned 103 jobs could go as a result of the move. However, it said 29 affected employees had secured jobs in its nearby Tanfield Lea and Billingham sites.
Employees were scheduled to leave the plant in three phases over the next three months, according to the GMB, which claimed 80 workers were being made redundant.
“It's an incredibly sad time for our members, their families and the community of Consett,” said GMB organiser Suzanne Reid. “Many members have worked at the factory for 20 years plus, they consider their work colleagues to be their friends and family.
“Approximately 20 employees have secured roles in the Tanfield Lea and Billingham sites, which is very positive. We are very concerned for staff being made redundant who are going to be looking for employment in the area.”
A KP spokesman said: “KP announced back in September last year that it was reluctantly closing its factory in Consett. KP operates in an increasingly competitive market and has had to focus on its cost base to develop a sustainable business.
“While this decision has involved 70 redundancies, who are all receiving outplacement support, the business is pleased that 29 of its Consett employees have accepted new positions at its Teesside and Tanfield factories.”
The GMB, which claims to be the largest general union in the north east of England, has repeatedly called the staff and consultation “a sham”, “meaningless” and “a farce”. Its members were disappointed at the company’s “vague and generic” answers to questions and proposals to save the site.
The organisation has always argued that, as a major employer in town, the factory should not be allowed to close.
When KP Snacks first announced intentions to close its Consett and Corby factories and transfer production elsewhere, ceo Nick Bunker said the decision had been taken “to develop a sustainable and competitive manufacturing operation”.
In December 2013, KP Foods and Intersnack revealed plans to invest £16M in closing the Haverhill snack food factory in Suffolk and consolidating nut processing and packing at Rotherham, Yorkshire. That followed Intersnack’s takeover of KP Snacks in December 2012.