Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Talks at Factory; Unions Look for Deal as Closure Announced

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Talks at Factory; Unions Look for Deal as Closure Announced

Article excerpt

Byline: By MIKE BLACKBURN

UNIONS were in talks today to find the "best deal possible" for workers left reeling after news their Stockton factory is to close.

British Polythene Industries (BPI) announced the closure yesterday of its Yarm Road plant, with the loss of up to 165 jobs.

As reported, the company blamed the downturn in the construction industry, which accounted for more than 40% of its sales by volume, for the decision.

It said the site at Stockton had made losses in the past two years, while demand for its products has reduced "dramatically" in the last six months.

"We expect little prospect for improvement as the UK economy enters recession," said the company, estimating losses at pounds 2.5m this year due to the economic downturn.

The firm said continuing to operate the Stockton site was "no longer viable" and proposed transferring production to other sites in the BPI group, which could create 40 jobs next year.

"Redundancy consultations have commenced with employees," it said in a statement, adding: "Every effort will be made to find alternative employment either within or outside BPI."

Bob Bolam, regional officer of the union Unite, said news of the closure still came as a shock to workers, despite redundancies and closures of parts of the plant in recent years.

"We have been concerned for a while and have been working with the company to try and secure all members' futures at the site," he said. "But obviously the company has made its decision.

"I spoke to shop stewards, but I would imagine from their reactions the workers will be very upset, especially in the run up to Christmas.

"The firmsays there is opportunity for 40 jobs elsewhere - whether you have people from Stockton prepared to move to Derby or Scotland, I don't know.

"Consultation hasn't begun yet but we would obviously be looking for the best deal possible for our members.

"We would be looking to save those jobs for as long as possible. …

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