Essex

More than 550 jobs 'at risk' after proposed chicken factory closure

Chicken factory
Image caption The 2 Sisters Food Group have proposed to close the site on Freebournes Road

More than 550 jobs at a chicken factory are at risk after its proposed closure was announced.

The 2 Sisters Food Group said products made site on Freebournes Road in Witham, Essex, could be produced "more efficiently elsewhere".

The company employs 555 people at the site and said all were "now at risk of redundancy".

It said it would look at "redeployment opportunities" at two of its sites in Norfolk.

In a statement, the company said: "Our continuing UK poultry strategic footprint review has concluded we need shorter and leaner supply chains in order to remain competitive in an extremely challenging sector.

"Our key priority now is to hold meaningful consultations with all affected employees."

Image caption Factory worker Trevor Harvey described the site as "falling apart"

The company supplies chickens to most of the UK's major supermarkets and also owns Fox's Biscuits and Holland's Pies.

Trevor Harvey, who had worked at the site for the last 25 years, said: "I will miss the place but what can you do.

"Orders have been dropping lately, we've not had a lot of work going on. You can't do nothing about it. It's inevitable."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The union Unite said the closure was "grim news" for the 555 people employed at the site

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said the factory's closure was "grim news for the workforce and, more generally, for the Essex economy".

She said: "Unite is seeking an urgent meeting with management to clarify the implications of what is proposed."

The union would be "seeking to avoid compulsory redundancies", she added.

In September 2017, the Food Standards Agency investigated the company after alleged safety breaches at one its factories in West Bromwich, leading to operations being temporarily suspended.

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