Unilever confirms 300 job cuts and closure of 3 Welsh plants


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The Independent Online

More than 300 jobs are to be lost after consumer goods giant Unilever confirmed it is to close three plants in Wales.

Factories at Swansea and Bridgend will shut by the end of 2013 with the loss of 250 jobs.

Ewloe in Flintshire will close by the end of 2014 with the loss of another 100 staff, with 400 jobs moving to Port Sunlight, Wirral.

Company officials say about 50 distribution jobs will be created on Deeside, Flintshire, and its Pot Noodle factory in Crumlin, near Blackwood, will not be affected.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith described the news as bitterly disappointing.

He said: "The loss of three hundred and fifty jobs in Wales would be a serious blow at any point in the economic cycle but in the middle of a double-dip recession, it will be felt particularly acutely."

Affected staff were told the news by company bosses today with consultations due to start with workers on Monday.

The news confirms proposals that the company was planning to shut the sites.

It has a total UK workforce of about 7,200 and makes products and brands ranging from Ben and Jerry's ice cream, Marmite, PG Tips and Pot Noodle to Dove soap, Vaseline, Persil and Domestos.

The Swansea factory makes personal care products; in Bridgend the company has a distribution site.

The firm has previously said some of the jobs in Ewloe could be outsourced to Unilever's IT centre in Bangalore, India.

The new jobs at Deeside come as Unilever announced it has signed a contract with a separate distributor based at the industrial estate.

Swansea AM Mike Hedges said: "Although I've been told that Unilever plans to offer jobs to staff facing redundancy in Swansea at their new base in Merseyside, I sincerely doubt that this will be of any consolation or benefit to the 225 local people that will now lose their job as a result."

Conservative AM Nick Ramsay, the Assembly's shadow business minister, said it was now up to the Welsh Government to help Welsh workers who had been affected.

"The Labour Business Minister now needs to do all she can to offer support to the employees affected and help them to find new and secure employment," he added.

Liberal Democrat AM Eluned Parrott said the government in Cardiff Bay needed to up the ante in attracting businesses.

"Fewer corporate headquarters are based in Wales than in any of the UK's other nations," she said.

"This means that our manufacturing workforce are more at risk.

"The health of manufacturing in Wales is now critical. The Welsh Government must act right now, whilst we still have a manufacturing sector to support."