Staff at Britvic in Norwich encourage Wimbledon visitors to boycott Robinsons
PUBLISHED: 11:18 13 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:24 13 July 2018
PA Archive/PA Images
Workers at Britvic who are set to lose their jobs next year when its Norwich factory closes took their protest to the streets of south west London.
Led by the GMB union, staff held a one-day strike at the Wimbledon tennis championships, where Britvic brand Robinsons has been a sponsor for 83 years.
Employees were encouraging members of the public to boycott Robinsons at the tournament, as well as other headline sponsors like McDonalds, Subway and Pepsi, and distributing a newsletter about the closure of the Norwich factory, which prompted discussions with the public.
Ivan Mercer, East of England regional organiser at the GMB, said: “Many people committed that they were in support of encouraging Britvic to meet with GMB to resolve the dispute.”
The saga began in October 2017 when Britvic announced it was considering closing its Norwich factory, where it makes Fruit Shoot and Robinsons squash, putting 242 jobs at risk.
Following a consultation of staff – the fairness of which has since been brought into question by unions – Britvic resolved to close the factory in 2019.
A campaign was mounted by the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News to save the Britvic factory and neighbouring Unilever facility, where Colman’s mustard has been made for decades and which was also threatened with closure, which saw a petition taken to company bosses in London.
The 24-hour strike in Wimbledon on Thursday was held in an attempt to convince Britvic to improve the redundancy package it is offering to staff at its Norwich factory, in Bracondale.
Announcing the strike back in June, Mr Mercer said: “Members are disgusted with the way that Britvic are behaving and have reluctantly come to terms with the fact that Britvic do not care that they are being put out of work after they and generations before them have made the Robinsons brand the market leader that it is today.
“All members are asking for is to be comparably rewarded for their hard work and commitment to Britvic in the same manner that Unilever are rewarding their employees.”
In total more than 350 people are set to be made redundant when Unilever and Britvic move out of their Norwich premises next year.
A spokesman for Britvic said: “We are disappointed by the GMB’s actions at Wimbledon. We acknowledge that the GMB is not satisfied with the proposed redundancy payments despite Britvic’s commitment to offer every impacted Britvic employee an enhanced redundancy package.
“This enhanced package is substantially larger than the amount we are legally obliged to pay, and we made this commitment in good faith following the collective consultation process with employee representatives, which included the GMB and Unite unions.
“The GMB’s actions and baseless accusations will not achieve larger enhanced redundancy payments.”