Council aims to help redundant workers

EMERGENCY talks have been held by councillors in a bid to help soften the blow for hundreds of workers facing redundancy from a Suffolk factory.The future of Grampian Country Pork, in Elmswell, became an 11th hour addition to the agenda of an executive committee meeting held at Mid Suffolk District Council yesterday.

EMERGENCY talks have been held by councillors in a bid to help soften the blow for hundreds of workers facing redundancy from a Suffolk factory.

The future of Grampian Country Pork, in Elmswell, became an 11th hour addition to the agenda of an executive committee meeting held at Mid Suffolk District Council yesterday.

The urgent discussion came just over a week after factory bosses announced nearly 400 jobs were to be axed when the site closes later this year.

District councillor Doug Reed, who is ward member for Elmswell, said it was imperative the council made sure it was doing everything within its power to assist workers.

“Myself and councillor Carol Milward put it on the agenda because we wanted to ensure the council was making the appropriate responses to the announcement,” he said.

“There are a number of things that can be done, both in the short-term and long-term, and the council's economic development officer has been put in charge of making sure everything is looked at, such as providing information on redundancies, and tapping into services provided by other agencies that are in partnership with the council.”

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Residents in Elmswell were left shocked following the announcement the 42-acre site was to close due to overcapacity in the food production industry.

A total of 380 people - including generations of families - are now faced with the prospect of being unemployed.

Mr Reed said: “People in the village are devastated by what has happened. Some workers have been at the factory for many years and are not sure where to turn to so everyone is still very much in a state of shock.

“The impact of the closure on the village, as well as on shops, will be immense, and we need to make sure that everything that can be done, is being done.

“Everyone was hopeful that something might be worked out in a bid to save jobs, but that is looking less likely.

“But once that is properly acknowledged it is a question of doing everything we can to help staff find alternative employment.”

Recent crunch talks between Grampian and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), failed to find an alternative to closure, after last-ditch attempts to change working practices were rejected. Hopes of finding a buyer for the site are also thought to have been all but dashed.

Christine Henry, area organiser for USDAW, said: “We appear to have exhausted all avenues and we are resigned to the fact the factory will close on June 14.”

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