Lewis demands government back threatened workers

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, right, speaks to Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard at the Unilever

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, right, speaks to Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard at the Unilever Colman's factory in Norwich. Picture: D Faulkner - Credit: Archant

Labour's Clive Lewis has demanded government intervention to stop Norwich losing more than 300 jobs.

In a letter to the business secretary Greg Clark, the Norwich South MP demands the government step in to help save jobs at the threatened Britvic and Unilever plants.

He likened the situation to that in Sunderland when Nissan were considering moving production but the government offered assurances which kept work in the north east.

In the letter he said: 'There are now more than 300 workers in Norwich under threat of losing their jobs and the knock-on effects could be very grim indeed.

'Across the city and region, the potential closures would hit hard companies and staff the length of a well established and stable supply chain that leads all the way to the factory gates in Norwich. The Unilever owned Colman's brand has been synonymous with Norwich for over 200 years and is part of the heritage of this great city.

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'Both Britvic and Unilever say this isn't a done deal so we have time to make the difference to save secure, skilled and well paid jobs. Unilever's options include the possibility of expanding operations on the current site so it is not too late to preserve and strengthen the historic link between food and drinks manufacture and Norwich. But to stand a chance of succeeding, we will need the open strong support and political will of the UK government.

'Earlier this year, the government stepped in to successfully preserve threatened automotive jobs in the North-East. So if the government can help Nissan why not Norwich? If it can be done for cars, why not for Colman's?'

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He goes on to ask Mr Clark to travel to Norwich to meet those whose jobs are at risk: 'We stand the best chance of a positive outcome by all working together – local authorities and agencies, staff, the companies themselves backed resolutely by central government.

'So I am writing to ask you to come with a delegation from your department and central government to meet with myself, the public bodies of this city, the staff whose jobs are hanging by a thread and the unions that represent them.

'There is no time to be lost. We have a window of opportunity of a few weeks before Britvic and Unilever end their respective consultation and review. So I look forward to hearing that you will come and meet in our fantastic city in the very near future.'

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