40 workers at Shepton Mallet’s historic cider mill will be clocking off for the last time today (Friday 20 May) as Irish drinks company C&C Group presses ahead with plans to close the profitable site, in a move which has been described as ‘economic vandalism’ by Britain’s largest union, Unite.
The redundancies, the first affecting the 120-strong workforce because of the closure, spell the beginning of the end to over 240 years of cider making on the site and comes just days after C&C Group revealed that the Shepton Mallet mill had contributed 10.5 million euros to the group’s 103 million euro profit for the year.
Many of the workers have worked at the mill all their working life and face an uncertain future in an area with limited opportunities for similar employment as C&C Group moves production and fermentation of Somerset ciders, Dry Blackthorn, Natch and Olde English to Ireland.
Commenting Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy said: “Today marks the beginning of the end for this historic site which has been the beating heart of Shepton Mallet and cider making in Somerset for centuries.
“Workers, many with 40 years experience, are devastated at the running down of the site and its ultimate closure. Some have put all their working life into making popular ciders like Dry Blackthorn and Olde English.
“They have hit every target given to them and made a profit for the owners C&C Group and feel a deep sense of betrayal by the firm’s quest to squeeze ever more profit from its sites.
“In England’s cider shires of Somerset, Devon, Hereford and Gloucester companies are investing in their mills, their brands and employees for the futures. Yet C&C Group is turning its back on a viable and profitable site in what can only be termed as short sighted economic vandalism.
“We would urge any interested buyer of the site to come forward before cider making at this historic and profitable mill runs totally dry.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.