A PUDDING factory near Shrewsbury is to shed 350 jobs.
The job losses at the Uniq dairy in Minsterley, due to take effect next June, come on top of 50 redundancies already announced for next March.
Union bosses at Unite - which represents the workforce - has branded the news as a “devastating blow” to the local economy.
Regional officer Mike Tuff said: “A total of 400 jobs losses is a devastating blow for this community situated in a rural area where finding alternative work will be very difficult, especially at a time when the economy in general and manufacturing in particular are on their knees.
“I will be having urgent talks with Uniq’s management at Minsterley to get the full details and to make it clear that we will be doing everything in our power to save our members’ jobs.”
The union said it was concerned that the cuts could be linked to the takeover of Uniq by the giant Irish convenience food company Greencore due to be completed today (Thursday)
Jennie Formby, national officer for the food and drink sector at Unite, said: “We are very concerned that these job losses have been announced just days before Uniq is taken over by Greencore and it is difficult to believe that these two events are not linked.
“Since Kraft’s disastrous takeover of Cadbury we have repeatedly made the case for a Cadbury’s law to protect British companies from predatory takeovers by companies where a sometimes reckless pursuit of shareholder value is more important than vital jobs in British manufacturing.
“Our members must not pay the price of takeovers with their jobs and conditions.
“Unite will be fighting very hard to protect our members’ interests at this very grim time.’
“Our members heard about the latest round of job losses on the internet last night – and they are furious at the lack of sensitivity and basic courtesy shown by the management.”
Uniq says it is closing production of its loss-making Everyday Desserts line at Minsterley.
Attempts to turn around the fortunes of the line, which makes dairy puddings and trifles, have failed.
The company’s premium range of desserts is to be moved from Minsterley to Somerset.
But some desserts will continue to be made at Minsterley, with staff scaled down to around 100 people.
Meanwhile Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has arranged a meeting tomorrow (Friday) at 2pm with the company at his constituency office in Harlescott Lane.