Hundreds protest against job cuts

Hundreds of disgruntled workers gathered around the statue of Norfolk's 18th century campaigner for citizens' rights today to drum up community support against the closure of a meat processing plant.

Hundreds of disgruntled workers gathered around the statue of Norfolk's 18th century campaigner for citizens' rights today to drum up community support against the closure of a meat processing plant.

Norfolk MP Christopher Fraser joined a rally at the Thomas Paine memorial in Thetford to lend his weight behind more than 500 Tulip employees who are facing redundancy.

The multinational company, which is part of the Danish Crown group, announced last month that it was planning to cease production of Danepak fresh pork and bacon in the town after more than 40 years.

More than 200 members of the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) and Amicus descended on Thetford town centre today to protest against the potential loss of 350 permanent jobs and 200 agency posts and the withdrawal of a more than 20 year enhanced redundancy package.

A leaflet and poster campaign was launched and postcards were handed out to shoppers calling for local politicians to intervene and press the company over its decision to close the Thetford plant, in Caxton Way.

Mr Fraser, MP for South West Norfolk, said: “Closure will have a profound impact on the whole community at a time when we are trying to build up Thetford and it is up to all of us to support those people that are about to lose their jobs. I lost my job once, so I know how very difficult it can be.

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“I cannot instruct Tulip on their actions, but I can make representations on the workers behalf at the highest level. This is the beginning of the campaign for justice from the company and I will do my best to ensure Thetford's voice is heard.”

Tulip bosses say that the Thetford factory's ageing and costly infrastructure is the reason for the proposed closure, however, union officials claim that the company made a £12.55m profit last year, an increase of 44pc over the previous year.

Miles Hubbard, T&G regional industrial organiser, said there would be another protest outside the factory on Wednesday .

“People are outraged by the way they have been treated. There is no guarantee that we will win, but if we do not fight, we will definitely lose,” he said.