76 jobs axed and 236 left hanging in the balance


Hayley Collins

DOZENS of jobs have been axed at a food factory while a further 230 hang in the balance.

Paramount Foods on Deeside Industrial Park was put into administration and ceased trading on Friday when the 312-strong workforce was sent home.

Yesterday workers were called back to the frozen pizza factory where 76 were told they were being made redundant.

The remaining members of the workforce were told there would be enough work for another month and the factory is expected to begin production again today.

In the meantime, the administrator Duff & Phelps is urgently trying to find a buyer.

Julian Jones, from Connah’s Quay, has worked at the factory for four years and has been made redundant.

The 42-year-old father-of-one said: “They have kept some people on and got rid of some.

“The administrators have said they have got orders to see them through to the next month or so.

“It will give them a bit more time to find a buyer, but even the people they are keeping on are not sure if they are going to get paid at the end of it.”

Mr Jones, who worked in the hygiene department, is angry at the way workers were told of their fate.

“As we were going into the meeting management were asking some of us to go to the back of the building and others to go to the canteen – they knew who they wanted to keep,” he said.

“There is supposed to be a consultation if you are made redundant but we didn’t get any of that.

“Because the company is in administration I don’t even know whether I’m entitled to 90 days paid notice.

“The administrators said they were hoping to pay redundancy and wages owed, but they gave us the government claim forms just in case.”

Mr Jones is now looking for another job.

“I’ll find something else, but I’ve been left in limbo,” he added.

“It’s not me I’m gutted about it’s the other people who have been there since day one.”

Another worker, who has been there for eight years and asked to remain anonymous, was kept on by the firm.

He said: “I’m one of the lucky ones, I’ve got to keep my job, but our jobs are still not safe if we can’t find a buyer.”

A further 42 jobs have also been axed at the company’s other factory in Salford, Greater Manchester.

David Whitehouse, partner at Duff & Phelps, said: “On appointment and as a consequence of the company’s insolvency, the joint administrators suspended operations while urgent discussions were held with key customers and parties who may be interested in acquiring some or all of the business.

“As a result of those conversations with the positive support we have received from key customers, the company has resumed trading with the aim of securing an on-going trade sale of the business and its assets.

“Regrettably a number of redundancies were required in order to provide the opportunity to continue to trade the business in the short term.”

The blow comes after the factory, which supplies supermarkets with pizzas, lost a major contract with supermarket giant Morrisons – accounting for about 40 per cent of its business.

GMB union organiser Mark Jones said: “The loss of this contract has led to a dramatic downturn in the company’s income culminating in the administrators coming in.

“Some customers have said carry on with the orders and others are still making their minds up.

“But if the business continues to trade at a loss then they won’t keep it running.”

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami added: “I think demand is still there, but this appears to be a very cut throat business and it demonstrates the power supermarkets have in setting their prices and I think this is a result of that.

“This is going to be a very unsettling and worrying time for the workforce.”

GMB Union is now in touch with careers organisations including Careers Wales in a bid to help the redundant staff find work.

See full story in the Leader

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