York was in shock last week as Nestle Rowntree announced 645 job losses at its York factory - following on from 234 earlier in the year. The move is another step in the multinational’s outsourcing of jobs to lower-wage economies in eastern Europe.
Staff outrage was compounded by hearing the news first through the media.
Local GMB officials accused Nestle of “throwing down the gauntlet” to the trade union movement and slammed their “self-serving” pursuit of profit.
The Archbishop of York John Sentamu has condemned Nestle for “failing to realise the human cost” of their decision.
The news follows Norwich Union’s announcement that 450 jobs are to go from York, over which the Amicus union are discussing campaign options including industrial action.
These again were the result of outsourcing, with some staff having been sent on
secondments to India to train their own replacements.
British Sugar’s York sugar beet factory is also set to close next year, rail depot Fastline is planning to sack a dozen skilled engineers, and chocolate maker Terrys closed last year with the loss of over 300 jobs. This has been the worst period for employment in York since the closure of the BR Carriageworks in 1995.
Disgracefully, the local Labour MP Hugh Bayley said, “The jobs decision is tough medicine, but if it secures a long-term future then I will work with employees, their trade unions and the company to help that happen.”
In contrast, trade unionists are discussing a broader campaign through the local trades council with the aim to save manufacturing in York and offer some hope for the future to threatened workers and their families.