A union official has said there are Corby people who could work at the sandwich factory at the centre of a national controversy.
The company which operates the Northampton factory, Greencore, has spoken out after claims in a national newspaper that it was employing 300 people from Hungary after it could not find enough people locally who wanted to work for them.
An article in the Daily Mail newspaper today said Greencore was having to recruit a 300-strong workforce from abroad to work in its new £30m sandwich factory, opening in 2016, because “no local people wanted to do the job”.
It led to the front-page headline, “Is there no one left in Britain who can make a sandwich?”.
But in response the company, which produces 430 million sandwiches a year, said it had been “pleased” with the response from local job applicants.
It aims to recruit 250 people in total to staff the new facility and is not looking to fill all the positions with Hungarians.
A Greencore spokesman said: “Greencore employs about 1,100 people in Northampton, and is currently looking to recruit a number of staff.
“We have already started a range of recruitment initiatives locally and have been pleased with the response.
“However, we will also be considering applicants from further afield, including Hungary, and will be conducting interviews with suitable candidates in due course.
“We are extremely proud of the diversity of our workforce and, as always, will be hiring on a strict equal opportunities basis.”
Building began last week on the new facility on the site of a former shoe factory next to Greencore’s existing unit in Deer Park Road, Moulton Park.
Unite the Union officer Sally Mortimer said: “We welcome the possibility of 250 new jobs in the Northampton area.
“With the closure of Solway foods in Corby, there are plenty of well-trained members that are looking for permanent work.”
Labour parliamentary candidate for Northampton South Kevin McKeever has invited Greencore to attend a jobs fair early next year, to inform local people about the company and encourage them to apply for jobs.
UKIP MEP Margot Parker said: “It is clear that despite a token effort from Greencore to appeal to the redundant workers from Solway, the availability of cheap labour from Europe has helped put over 500 Britons out of work.
“Why is Greencore recruiting 300 workers from Hungary to open a factory in Northampton, when 500 people in Corby lost jobs doing same job this year?
“It looks like a prime example of job displacement, facilitated by our membership of the EU and a company which wants the cheapest labour available.
“It is hard to justify saying there is lack of skilled people in the area when 500 workers just up the road doing the same job recently lost their jobs and are willing to work.”