Coronavirus: Greencore staff furloughed but firm makes £35m profit

Greencore, Northampton Image copyright Google
Image caption The Bakers' Union is asking managers at Greencore to top up the government's furlough scheme so workers get full pay

A sandwich-making company has announced £35m in operating profits despite its staff being furloughed.

The bakers' union says the "huge profits" come while the Dublin-based firm's staff in Northampton live "below the poverty line".

But a Greencore spokesman said weekly demand for food-to-go products has declined by up to 70% since the coronavirus outbreak.

The firm's half year results showed revenue had grown to more than £700m.

On Tuesday, Greencore also announced a £35.6m operating profit across its business, with group revenue up by 1.6% to £712m.

Despite that the firm has stressed that measures such as furloughing staff had still been necessary to ensure jobs are saved.

The company has furloughed more than 4,000 staff across the UK, including nearly all of the 1,800 workers at Moulton Park in Northampton.

Members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) are lobbying the firm to pay workers 100% of their wages, by topping up the 80% paid by the government under its job retention scheme.

Regional officer George Attwall said although Greencore "haven't hit their profit targets, they have still made huge profits".

"Members are feeling the pinch in their pockets, they are living below the poverty line," Mr Attwall said.

'Living in mansions'

Northampton branch president Robert Hanley, who has worked at the plant for 36 years, called the move "sheer greed" and "shameful".

He said many workers are considering finding alternative employment rather than returning to Greencore when the furlough ends.

Mr Attwall said the situation would be different if the company "was going to go bust".

"Then the union would accept a pay cut to save jobs," he said.

"As it is, directors are living in mansions and staff in hostels. They can afford to take a pay cut."

The spokesman said while Greencore was confident the decrease in orders would be temporary, "the decline has meant we have had to carry out a range of initiatives in order to navigate our way through the disruption and ensure that we can preserve jobs at Greencore in the long-term".

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