Weetabix unions to ask for assurances

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Unions acting for workers at Weetabix have asked company bosses for reassurance meetings after a Chinese firm bought a majority stake in the company.

Bright Foods, a Chinese-owned firm, yesterday bought a 60 per cent stake in the firm that makes breakfast cereal at factories in Corby and Burton Latimer.

The company immediately pledged to grow the business internationally, but unions are concerned about what this may mean for staff locally.

Usdaw represents more than 650 workers at Weetabix. Deputy midlands divisional officer Gavin Dadley said: “We have spoken to Weetabix to seek assurances about our members’ jobs and conditions of service and have been assured by the company that it is business as usual.

“Usdaw is encouraged by the positive statement from Bright Food that indicates a strong desire to grow and develop Weetabix into a global brand. However, at our request the company has agreed to an early meeting with myself and the full shop stewards committee where we‘ll be seeking to establish their immediate and long term plans for the business.”

Unite represents 100 staff at the firm. National officer for food Jennie Formby said: “Bright Food has been looking to buy a UK food company for some time, so it is no surprise to hear they are taking a large share in Weetabix.

“While it is too soon to know the impact this will have on the business, Unite’s concern at times like this is always to seek assurances from new owners that our members must not pay the price of any takeover with their jobs or a diminution in employment conditions.

“However, we very much hope the statements from Bright Food that they will be looking to grow the business will instead lead to greater security.

“We would like a meeting with the new owners as soon as possible to seek reassurances that jobs will be safeguarded.”

When asked for comment on the situation for local workers, a Weetabix spokesman said: “Weetabix is the first acquisition that Bright Food has completed in the UK. Bright Food has no overlapping manufacturing or infrastructure in any of Weetabix’s key markets and does not envisage disposing of any assets of Weetabix, but instead, will further expand its markets by fully utilising its capacity.

“While no guarantees can be made, it will be business as normal for Weetabix; Bright Food values the expertise of Weetabix’s management and employees across our existing operations in the UK and globally.”