Fears about the future production of the iconic Colman’s Mustard in Norwich have been expressed by Unite, the country’s largest union, after Britvic announced the closure of its drinks business on the same site.
Soft drinks group Britvic Plc announced today (Tuesday 3 October) it would close its Norwich manufacturing site, resulting in 242 job losses, of which 32 are Unite engineering and maintenance members.
The production of its Robinsons and Fruit Shoot brands at the site, which is co-owned with Unilever, will be transferred to east London, Leeds and Rugby. The plant will close by the end of 2019.
Unite said that the announcement had serious implications for the future of Colman’s Mustard, owned by Unilever, which has been produced in Norfolk for more than two centuries.
Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “The sad news that Britvic is closing its operations in Norwich also has an impact on Unilever workers who the share the same site.
“This is very painful news for our members and their families at Britvic and we will be giving the maximum support to our members at what is a very difficult time in the days and weeks ahead.
“The Unilever has today announced a review of the whole site to be concluded by the end of November. Everything is up for review including expanding its operations, selling part of the site and, more worryingly, closure.
“The iconic Colman's Mustard has been produced at the same factory since the 1860s.
“Unite will not only be seeking assurances, but applying pressure with the support of the local community, that the production and the much-needed jobs that are vital for the Norwich economy remain. Anything else won't cut the mustard.
“The whole of Norfolk needs to come together to fight for the future of Colman’s Mustard that is so identified with the city of Norwich. Colman’s is in the DNA of the city.”
The Unilever part of the site has about 60 workers belonging to the GMB union, with Unite representing 10 engineering workers.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065
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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.