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Thousands back our campaign to save 350 jobs at two historic Britvic and Colman's factories

PUBLISHED: 08:19 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:58 05 October 2017

Entrance to the Norwich Britvic factory.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Entrance to the Norwich Britvic factory. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Our community campaign to save two of Norwich's oldest employers has roared into life, with the backing of nearly 5,000 people in just 24 hours.

Support has come from workers past and present, business groups, unions and politicians, as well as the people of Norwich and Norfolk who have urged bosses at Britvic and Unilever to think again.

The two companies – which make Robinsons squash and Colman’s Mustard at their shared site at Carrow Works – announced on Monday they were looking at plans to withdraw from the city, putting up to 355 jobs at risk.

READ MORE: More than 200 jobs at risk as Britvic announces plans to close Norwich factory

READ MORE: Colman’s Mustard factory in Norwich could shut after Britvic announces closure plans

The push to keep the jobs in the city stepped up with council bosses saying they could consider a deal to encourage the companies to stay, signatories to the petition shared stories of family links to the factories which could be traced back generations, with others raising concerns at the loss of a piece of Norfolk’s social history.

GMB regional officer Ivan Mercer, who has backed the They Must Be Saved campaign, said union members at Britvic were “extremely disgruntled” at the closure plans.

“Relocation is not really an option for many of them because we understand there are only 20 or so vacancies at other sites which is hardly going to make a difference. They have been reducing permanent employees on site for a number of years and there are some agency workers who have been there for three or four years.”

MORE: Sign the petition to save Britvic and Unilever’s Norwich factory

The Unite union, who met Norwich South MP Clive Lewis at the factory gates yesterday morning, also endorsed the campaign.

Julia Long, national food and drink sector officer, said: “Unite is 100% committed to the campaign to save both production lines and applauds the swift response of the Eastern Daily Press and the Norwich Evening News in launching the campaign that will bring together all those interested in the welfare of Norfolk to combat the threatened job losses.”

Norfolk Chamber warned the job losses “will impact heavily” on the local economy. Chief executive Chris Sargisson said the group would “work in conjunction with our partners, to strongly support the calls for both Colman’s and Britvic to remain in Norwich”.

The GMB will host a meeting to discuss the plans at 6pm on Friday, October 13, with Mr Lewis due to attend.

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