Twinings, one of the great names of British tea with a history which goes back to the 1700s, has caused a fuss with its plans to ‘consolidate its manufacturing operations’. The result of this may be around 120 job losses at its plant in Andover, and possibly 263 job losses at North Shields.
Although the plan allows for some work to remain in Andover, there are also plans to relocate its operations abroad – an existing Twinings plant in China may be expanded, and there may be construction of a new facility in Poland.
The BBC and press in both parts of the country quoted Mike Parsonage, of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, as saying: ”Twinings are moving abroad to seek cheap labour. If we allow this to happen, no manufacturing jobs will have a future in the UK.”
It is also reported that John McDonnell MP has tabled an early-day motion in the Commons, and has said: “There is absolutely no reason to close the factory in North Shields. The company’s biggest market is France, so what is the sense of moving most of its European operations over to Poland?”
Twinings has said that the reason for its plan is to save unnecessary transport logistics. Marcus Cotter-Stone, the company’s international supply director, said:
“The majority of our tea is imported and packaged here in the UK prior to being re-exported, and this is not efficient. As two-thirds of our sales are overseas, we need to locate our manufacturing operations in cost effective locations, closer to markets.”
If the plan goes through, it will take effect in 2011.
By Ian Boughton