Confectionery giant Nestle has unveiled plans to cut almost 300 jobs in Britain, as it gets ready to move production of the Blue Riband chocolate biscuit to its factories in Poland.
The Swiss company said on Tuesday (25 April) that the decision will affect jobs at various sites across the north of England and in Scotland, with 143 jobs set to be cut at the company's site in York, which was acquired in its takeover of Rowntree in 1988.
Nestle's factory at Fawdon, near Newcastle, will see 110 positions go, while sites at Halifax and Girvan, in Ayrshire, will lose 15 and seven jobs respectively.
Production of the Blue Riband chocolate bar, which is currently carried out in Fawdon, will be moved to Poland, meaning the biscuit will no longer be produced on British soil for the first time since 1936.
"These proposals are being made by Nestle UK to ensure that these sites operate more efficiently and remain competitive in a rapidly changing external environment," the company said in a statement.
Nestle, the largest food company in the world by revenues between 2014 and 2016, also stated the plans will also involved a revised shift pattern across all the sites affected, adding it has launched a 45-day consultation period with trade unions.
However, the decision was immediately met with strong criticism from workers' representatives, who accused the company of putting profits before their workers' welfare. GMB general secretary Tim Roache said shifting the production of an iconic British brand like Blue Riband to Poland was completely unacceptable.
"Nestle are throwing people's lives, and those of their families, into turmoil for the sake of increasing profit margins," he added. "These factories should be exporting chocolate – not people's jobs.
"The Government needs to step in before it's too late and reassure millions of workers across the country this is not just the tip of the Brexit iceberg."
Julia Long, Unite national officer, added Nestle should invest in Britain, rather than looking to scale down its operations in the country. "Rather than turning its back on its UK workforce, Nestle should be investing in its UK operations and keeping production here at plants in the UK," she said.