Axed Flintshire factory staff in jobs limbo

Reporter:

By Lois Hough

WORKERS axed from a frozen food factory say they have been forced to turn down new jobs because they will lose their redundancy pay.


Headland Foods in Flint announced it will shed 318 staff in mid-April and close the Castle Park factory at the end of April.


The announcement follows a 90-day consultation period to decide the future of the site.


Bosses said they would make every effort to help workers find other jobs including redeployment at the company’s sister factory in Grimsby, as well as at Kerry Group plants at Hyde, near Manchester and Burton-on-Trent.


The firm is also working with Careers Wales and other agencies to identify other jobs in the area.


But one worker, who contacted the Leader anonymously, says he has been forced to turn down new work because his redundancy entitlement is at risk.


He said: “They say they are going to help us find work but I have turned down three jobs now. If I go before April 21 I will lose my redundancy pay.


“I have asked if I can finish early so I can take another job and they said I will lose my money if I go, even though I can easily be replaced. This puts everyone in a difficult situation.”


The company, which was bought by Irish giant Kerry Group before Christmas, makes two million ready meals a week at its factories in Flint and Grimsby, Lincolnshire.


Flint councillor and trade unionist Alex Aldridge says workers need to challenge the guidelines. “Kerry have got a duty to their employees,” he said.


“It was their decision to relocate so it incumbent that the company assists its workers in finding new employment.

"My understanding of the law is that if employees have found alternative work, they can leave and still be entitled to their redundancy pay. This is what is laid down in national guidelines.


“Workers need to challenge this. This is poor relations by the Kerry Group.”


Kerry spokesman Frank Hayes said: “We are aware that there are significant opportunities with local businesses and that is very gratifying, but our understanding is that those opportunities will still be there in the coming months.
 

“In the meantime we have to protect the business and meet our customer requirements. Therefore, redundancy arrangements have been planned and we will execute those accordingly.”

See full story in the Leader

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