450 Unilever jobs at risk in Flintshire, Swansea and Bridgend

Unilever produces some of the most famous brands in Britain

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Consumer goods giant Unilever is planning to shut its sites in Flintshire, Swansea and Bridgend, putting 450 jobs at risk.

The company said 200 jobs could go at the firm's IT centre in Ewloe and 400 other posts transferred to Merseyside.

Around 225 jobs could be lost through the closure of its Swansea factory, and 25 at a distribution site in Bridgend.

The firm also plans to shut a plant in Slough, Berkshire, bringing the total number of losses to 800.

The company has a total UK workforce of around 7,200 and makes products and brands ranging from Ben and Jerry's ice cream, Marmite, PG Tips and Pot Noodles to Dove soap, Vaseline, Persil and Domestos.

It said the proposed changes could take effect by the end of 2013 and would be made up of 500 direct job losses and around 300 contractor and third party jobs.

Outsourced

The Swansea factory makes personal care products, while in Bridgend the company has a distribution site.

Some of the jobs in Ewloe could be outsourced to Unilever's IT centre in Bangalore, India.

Start Quote

Like many companies today, Unilever faces the challenge of creating growth opportunities against a backdrop of very tough economic conditions in Europe”

End Quote Amanda Sourry Chair of Unilever UK and Ireland

Reviews of the proposals are expected to be concluded in the autumn, with a final decision taken in September.

However, Unilever said it would be investing £40m in its largest UK factory in Port Sunlight, Merseyside.

Amanda Sourry, chair of Unilever UK and Ireland, said: "Like many companies today, Unilever faces the challenge of creating growth opportunities against a backdrop of very tough economic conditions in Europe.

"While Unilever is growing well in the UK and globally, it will always be necessary to make changes which raise our game and ensure our continued success.

"We believe these proposals would substantially strengthen our platform for long-term growth and competitiveness."

'Devastating blow'

Carl Sargeant, AM for Alyn and Deeside and Local Government Minister, whose constituency includes Ewloe, said he was "deeply saddened" to hear the news from Unilever.

"I will continue to work tirelessly with representatives from Unilever, my colleagues in the Welsh government and from the staff's union, Unite, to provide whatever support we can to the staff affected," he said.

UNILEVER JOBS REVIEW

  • Bridgend and Swansea - 250 jobs lost at the old Alberto Culver factories
  • Ewloe, Flintshire - 200 jobs lost but 100 jobs to be created in Bangalore, India; 400 staff to move 15 miles to Port Sunlight, Merseyside, where an additional 150 jobs will be created
  • Slough, Berks - 250 jobs affected at the old Sara Lee factory

Unite national officer Jennie Formby said officials would be meeting management to discuss the relocation of workers at Ewloe to a new IT centre at Port Sunlight.

Meanwhile, Business Minister Edwina Hart said the company's announcement would be a "devastating blow for Unilever's workforce and their families in Wales".

She added: "Officials from Welsh government recently met with senior executives from Unilever to discuss the impact of the company's plans in Wales.

"We asked the company to fully consider the range of support offered to businesses by the Welsh government and invited them to work together with us to implement a more sustainable solution for Wales by seeking to maintain current operations at its Welsh sites."

Flintshire council said it was seeking an urgent meeting with Unilever while Cllr Christine Richards, deputy leader of Swansea council, urged the company to reconsider its proposals.

"This news has come as a shock to the council and the local community," she said.

Start Quote

Yesterday we had an inkling something was going to come. There were rumours and people on holidays were being called in”

End Quote Rosita Williams Swansea worker

Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat business spokeswoman said: "I hope Unilever will look at the wider aspects of outsourcing overseas and keep as many highly skilled, motivated and experienced staff in their jobs here in Wales as possible."

Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith said he had spoken to Unilever and urged the company to consider all the options during the review.

"This is obviously grave news for Wales and for Swansea in particular," he said.

"The city has already been hard hit by public sector job losses and the closure of the Unilever plant, if it takes place, would be a further blow."

Rosita Williams, who has worked at the Alberto Culver factory in Swansea for 13 years, said: "Yesterday we had an inkling something was going to come.

"There were rumours and people on holidays were being called in.

"The mood isn't very good - most people are in shock," she said.

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