Cheese Plant Closure 'A Betrayal'

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Byline: By SALLY WILLIAMS

Farmers' unions warned yesterday that the loss of 115 jobs at a cheese-packing plant in West Wales would leave a black hole in the Welsh dairy sector. Donal McCarthy, managing director of Dairygold, flew in from Ireland on Sunday to tell workers at Dairygold Consumer Foods Plant UK at Felinfach, near Lampeter, Ceredigion, that their packaging plant would close before the end of March. He said the firm, which had launched a 90-day consultation, was under threat from significant overcapacity in the cheese-packing sector across the UK. Eifion Hughes, chairman of the Farmers Union of Wales Milk and Dairy Produce Committee, said, 'Replacing 115 jobs in a rural area like the Aeron Valley would be an extremely difficult task to achieve. This is another serious setback for the Welsh dairy sector after the closure of Llangadog Creamery with the loss of 170 jobs.' Arwyn Owen, directory of policy with the FUW, said the news was 'hugely disappointing'. Elin Jones, Ceredigion AM, is calling on Assembly Minister Carwyn Jones to claw back the pounds 660,000 in Welsh grants paid to Dairygold.

She said, 'I am dismayed that Dairygold has taken the decision to quit Felinfach.

'They have rejected offers of financial support from the Assembly. They have ignored the loyalty and efficiency of their workforce in Felinfach.

'They were keen enough a few years ago to pocket the grants available - but now they have turned and run. 'The company has let the area down badly and the workers deserve to know that the Assembly will not allow Dairygold to get away with such a betrayal. 'I am also looking to the Assembly Minister to increase the pressure on Dairygold to sell both buildings in Felinfach so that other businesses can create work on this site.

'It would be a further insult if Dairygold allowed these factories to lie idle. Dairygold has a moral obligation to release these buildings back to economic use.

'This is a sad day for the workers and the wider community. There could be no more efficient workplace and I hope that all public sector agencies can work together to help the workers find new employment in the area.'

Ceredigion councillor Owen Llywelyn said Dairygold had been one of the largest employers in the area and the closure would have a huge impact on many lives.

He said, '

There is a good workforce here and they deserve to be treated well.

'I hope it's not the end of the road for this factory, which has been the backbone of the central Ceredigion economy. …