A mass meeting of the workers at Shepton Mallet Cider to fight for the future of the 246-year-old cider-making heritage in the Somerset town will be held on Friday (29 January).
Unite, the country’s largest union representing the 120-strong workforce, is keen to encourage buyers to come forward to purchase the profitable site to safeguard jobs and carry on a cider producing tradition stretching back to 1770.
The workers will be meeting at the Kilver Street cider mill at 11.00 to explore campaigning avenues to retain cider-making in the town, including the well-known brands Blackthorn and Olde English, following a strong groundswell of support local and regionally.
Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy said: “The site is a profitable one and has been for many years. In 2014, there was a 17.1 million euro profit for its business group within the C&C Group. Overall, the Irish-based company returned a profit of about 116 million euros.
“Currently this year the cider mill is on target again to make a decent profit for the group.
“It is quite clear that the Shepton Mallet site is a profitable, going concern and the workers are being sacrificed to generate cash for the company, following a bad investment in a US cider manufacturer.
“This is the unacceptable face of international capitalism and Unite is calling for a similar drinks organisation to take over Shepton Mallet Cider. It has a loyal, long-standing workforce steeped in the cider-making tradition and who are eager to carry it on into the 21st century.
“There is no need for the site to close at the end of the summer with production moving to the Magners plant in Clonmel in the Irish Republic. Only fruit will continue to be pulped at Shepton Mallet, but then shipped to Ireland.
“Unite, on behalf of its members, would like to thank the people and organisations of Shepton Mallet and across the West Country for their support for the cider mill to continue. This has been very heartening, but we now need to move to the next campaigning stage.”
The summer closure will see the canning, bottling and kegging production lines moving to Ireland. It is not known how many will be left for the pulping operation that currently employs two full-time workers.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
- 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.