UK jobs at risk in Heinz shake-up

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Thousands of British workers at the food giant Heinz were last night anxiously waiting to hear whether they will lose their jobs in a massive world-wide restructuring of the business.

Bosses at Heinz UK are locked in discussions after delaying a planned announcement by more than two hours.

The company is believed to be planning a 6 per cent cut in its 43,000 global workforce.

And unions fear the axe could fall on the 2,500 staff employed at Heinz factories in Wigan, Lancashire, and Harlesden, north-west London, as well as another unit in the Lake District.

Union leaders have already met managers and were told two weeks ago that the company wants to make millions of pounds in savings and introduce a no-strike deal.

Brian Revell, a Transport and General Workers' Union national officer, said: "We are obviously prepared to negotiate, but the workers have rejected losing the right to strike. There is a history of good industrial relations at Heinz and the company is extremely profitable, so this is all about maximising profits for shareholders."

Heinz said in a statement from its US headquarters: "Specific plants and business for closure will not be publicly identified until after affected employees have been notified in the next few months." Unions condemned the move as "leaving staff on tenterhooks for no good reason".