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Union to apply for legal ruling to make Britvic disclose documents supporting Norwich factory closure

PUBLISHED: 21:24 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:25 10 November 2017

General views around the Robinsons soft drinks factory at Carrow Works, Norwich Bottles of fruit and barley squash on the production lines  Picture: James Bass For: EDP BUSINESS EDP Pics © 2007    Tel: (01603) 772434

General views around the Robinsons soft drinks factory at Carrow Works, Norwich Bottles of fruit and barley squash on the production lines Picture: James Bass For: EDP BUSINESS EDP Pics © 2007 Tel: (01603) 772434

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2007

A trade union is to apply for a legal ruling to make Britvic disclose documents supporting proposals to close its Norwich factory.

GMB said it was making an application to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to get the company to reveal its management case for the closure.

The CAC is an independent body responsible for resolving workplace disputes either by voluntary agreement or through a legal decision.

GMB claimed Britvic has continually refused to allow union officials to participate in ongoing consultation discussions with employees.

It also claimed the company had refused to share a “critical report” supporting the closure proposals, and had repeatedly refused to provide financial details to the consultative group.

Ivan Mercer, the union’s regional organiser, said: “GMB is appalled at the contempt that Britvic is showing to their workforce and the consultative group.

“Ignoring the requests of the consultative group, excluding union officials and withholding information only reinforces the perception among the community and workforce that this is a sham consultation process.

“If the company is so confident its business case stacks up then what have they got to hide?”

GMB claims the factory’s consultation group had only now been offered access to certain financial information.

However, it said the group was unable to seek assistance from union officials to develop “properly costed” alternative proposals due to commercial confidentiality.

Britvic said much of the information it was sharing was “commercially sensitive” and it was not at liberty to share the details publicly.

It is understood the process is due to end on November 24.

Mr Mercer added: “GMB is making an application to the Central Arbitration Committee to get them to rule that Britvic must disclose documents to the unions on the management case for shutting down the Norwich site.”

GMB said along with the union Unite, it was calling on Britvic to engage in “proper” talks involving the unions and its workforce.

Britvic announced in October that it was proposing to close its factory in Norwich, which produces Robinsons squash and Fruit Shoot.

Britvic’s response

Britvic said it remained “committed” to a transparent and comprehensive consultation process.

A spokesman said: “The proposal we have made is not one we have made lightly, and our focus remains on ensuring we offer our colleagues ongoing support and assistance throughout what we recognise is a difficult time.

“We are working with colleagues in the collective consultation group to make sure they have all the information they need regarding the details of the proposal.

“Much of the information we are sharing is commercially sensitive and like any responsible business listed in the UK, we are not at liberty to share sensitive information publicly.

“We have also acknowledged the consultation group’s request for expert support in analysing and explaining the information, and have arranged for an expert independent adviser to assist them.”

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