December 6 2013 Latest news:
By Matt Hunter
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Business chiefs in Suffolk spoke of their “disappointment and frustration” last night after a major factory confirmed it would close, leaving hundreds of people out of work.
The 2 Sisters Food Group unit at Haughley Park, near Stowmarket, which employs around 450 permanent staff and up to 250 agency workers at any one time, will close on November 15, it was announced yesterday.
Around 200 jobs could be relocated to other sites in Suffolk and Norfolk, but the redundancies are expected to run into the hundreds.
The company says the plant is closing because it is unviable, ageing and not fit for purpose, and has pledged to support workers as they try to find new jobs.
But last night, there was concern from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, while a Suffolk MP called for an urgent “jobs summit” to examine employment prospects in the area.
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is a very difficult time for the employees it affects directly even though our own economic intelligence shows that this is not a reflection of the wider Suffolk economy where service and manufacturing sectors are performing ahead of the national average.”
“2 Sisters is a multi-billion pound business and clearly has made its decision from outside of the county. It is hugely frustrating that 2 Sisters has taken this decision when there are so many positive factors operating a business in Suffolk.”
David Ruffley MP for Bury St Edmunds said he would write to Mid Suffolk District Council to see what can be done to attract businesses to the area.
He said: “It’s an anxious and depressing time for the many families who rely on the Haughley site for employment in some cases for up to three decades.
“The announcement came as no surprise - I held a meeting at the beginning of last month with the union, workers and management and really yesterday’s announcement is confirmation of what they were saying then.”
Adam Skwierawski, area organiser for the union Usdaw, said he would keep in “constant dialogue” with the company to get workers redeployed.
A spokeswoman for 2 Sisters said it was too early to say how many employees would be redeployed.
She said: “Since informing our employees of this proposal in August, we have continually met with colleagues to try and find other solutions and alternatives to closure.
“However, after taking this time to hear and explore all viewpoints and ideas with employees and union representatives, the inescapable truth is that the site is unsustainable and unviable – environmentally, economically and commercially.
“This decision has not been taken lightly and has been made following a detailed manufacturing footprint review.”
The company has other sites in Thetford, Flixton, Eye and Witham.