Union bosses will fight for workers
UNION bosses last night vowed to fight for hundreds of staff whose jobs will be axed as one of West Suffolk's major employers is shut down.Chiefs pledged their support to workers at Grampian Country Pork in Elmswell, near Bury St Edmunds, and said every option would be explored in a bid to save jobs.
UNION bosses last night vowed to fight for hundreds of staff whose jobs will be axed as one of West Suffolk's major employers is shut down.
Chiefs pledged their support to workers at Grampian Country Pork in Elmswell, near Bury St Edmunds, and said every option would be explored in a bid to save jobs.
Emergency meetings were due to be held today between Grampian bosses and union officials, in a bid to examine every possible alternative to redundancy as almost 400 jobs look set to be lost.
Christine Henry, area organiser for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), said the priority was to ensure the best possible future for Grampian staff.
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“We have been told by the company that this proposed closure is due to overcapacity in the food production industry nationwide, but our long serving members at Elmswell can be rest assured we will be working with management to explore every option to save jobs,” she said.
“Our members are now on 90 days notice and are devastated by this announcement. Many of them have worked there since leaving school and in some cases whole generations of one family have earned their living there.
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“If the site does close in June then we will make sure our members get the very best redundancy packages possible, and will work closely with them to look at reskilling and retraining options to secure a very experienced and talented workforce suitable alternative jobs.
“Usdaw will be contacting local MPs and business organisations to see what help they can provide for the Elmswell workers and we'll be speaking to our contacts in the retail sector to see what assistance they can offer.”
The meetings come as one worker who has given 47 years of his life to the firm spoke of his utter devastation at learning he will lose his job.
Malcolm Elliston, 61, will be out of work for the first time since he was just 15-years-old when the 42-acre site closes within three months.
“I am still in shock,” he said. “I have worked at the factory my whole life and it is all I know. I only had another three years to go before I retired and there is no way I will be able to find another job at my age. I just don't know what I am going to do.”
Mr Elliston's only hope is that he receives substantial redundancy pay from the firm, otherwise he will have to rely on his wife Jackie's wages from her part-time job as a carer, in order to meet rent payments on their home in Thedwastre Close, Elmswell.
“Everyone at the factory was devastated when we were given the news on Wednesday, and a lot of people went home early,” said Mr Elliston, who works from 5.30am until 1.30pm as a factory hand in the sausage department.
Mrs Elliston, 58, who is also a former employee of Grampian, said: “A lot of people at the factory have mortgages and young children to look after, and in some cases husbands and wives work there together so whole families are going to be out of a job.
“Malcolm has not been the same since he was told he was going to be made redundant, and it worries the life out of me. I just feel like crying but all we can do is take things day-by-day and hope for the best.”
Meanwhile Steven Tyler, manager of the Mace store in Elmswell, said he feared the closure would have a knock-on effect on his business.
“We get a lot of trade from people at the factory and we are very worried about the future,” he added.