Company blames ‘challenging market’ for closures, which unions say will be ‘devastating’ in an area of high unemployment

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Nearly 500 jobs are under threat after supermarket milk supplier Dairy Crest announced plans to close two dairies.

The proposed closures involve a glass bottling dairy at Aintree, where 220 people work, and a site at Fenstanton in Cambridgeshire employing 250 people.

Unions say the job cuts – which amount to more than 10% of the workforce – will be ‘devastating’ for the Merseyside workers, in an area of high unemployment.

Dairy Crest said it plans to move the work to three other sides in Derbyshire. It says the Aintree bottling plant could close as early as August.

John Gorle, national officer at Usdaw, which represents workers at Aintree said: “Today’s announcement has come as a complete shock to our members.

“It is potentially devastating news for everyone who works at Aintree and for the local economy, where over 9,000 unemployed people are already chasing just 750 job centre vacancies.”

“While we are under no illusion about the challenges facing the milk industry at the moment, Usdaw will examine the company’s business case for the proposal in detail and we will use the consultation process to explore every possible alternative to closure.”

Dairy Crest, which employs 4,000 people in its dairies business and 6,000 people overall, blames the closures on a fall in sales of milk in glass bottles as residential trade continues to decline and customers increasingly opt for plastic bottles and milk bags.

Dairy Crest also has a food division which makes leading brands such as Cathedral City, Country Life and Clover.

Unions say they will immediately begin a 90-day consultation with the company to try to secure redeployment and alternatives to redundancy for members at the two sites.

Unite national officer, Cath Speight, said: “This is devastating news for the 400 workers spread across both sites.

“These closures will be a massive blow for the workers and the local areas affected.

“As more and more people are made redundant, job opportunities are becoming even scarcer. We now owe it to our members and their families to do everything in our power to help and support them.

“We hope Dairy Crest’s management will rethink this decision and we urge them to offer the staff affected every opportunity for redeployment within the business.”

Dairy Crest’s Aintree site is primarily a glass bottling dairy. The company says it intends to supply residential customers with milk in glass bottles from its Hanworth dairy in London should Aintree close.


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