Union hits out at ‘deeply disappointing’ plans to cut jobs at Bernard Matthews in Norfolk

Great Witchingham hall, Bernard Matthews' headquarters. Photo: Bill Smith

Great Witchingham hall, Bernard Matthews' headquarters. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith © Archant

The union representing workers at Bernard Matthews has hit out at 'deeply disappointing' plans to cut more than 150 jobs, after meeting with company bosses.

The poultry producer announced on Tuesday it was consulting with staff about cutting jobs at its head office and production facility at Great Witchingham in Norfolk.

The news comes just months after Bernard Matthews was bought out of administration by the Boparan Private Office, a company owner by 2 Sisters Food Group owner Ranjit Singh Boparan, which said it wanted to 'make Bernard Matthews great again'.

Unite said that 96 production jobs at the chicken production south site at Great Witchingham were under threat, with the remaining job losses coming from the head office managerial, technical and clerical staff.

The union is pushing for there to be no compulsory redundancies and for staff to be redeployed where possible, or given help to find work at other poultry companies, including 2 Sisters.

Regional officer Steve Harley said: 'This is deeply disappointing news as it was only five months ago that it was made clear that the new owner wished to restore Bernard Matthews to its former position as a highly profitable business. This was going to be achieved by greater investment in the business and utilising the spare capacity at Bernard Matthews to process chicken and not just turkeys.


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'However, following a review of its turkey production operations at its plants in Norfolk and Suffolk, we have been given this news that is a big blow to the workers, their families and the local economy.'

The 45-day consultation period started on Tuesday. Unite has collective bargaining rights with the production workforce, but not with the head office staff. The north site, which deals with turkey production, is unaffected.

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Mr Harley added: 'The management has announced that unless new opportunities can be sourced to increase demand in all-year chicken production, then it will have to cease such production at its south site.'

Unite represents about 600 of Bernard Matthews' 2,000-strong workforce in Norfolk and Suffolk.

A Bernard Matthews spokesman said the restructure would create a business 'fit for future growth', but it would explore options to mitigate job losses.

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