The closing down of Britvic’s Norwich factory jeopardizing more than 200 jobs is not backed by “meaningful evidence”, the GMB union has alleged.

It termed the consultation held over the factory’s future as “a sham”, with its members being apprehensive about the security of their jobs.

There are several online advertisements as well as social media activity which members highlighted at a meeting last week which were enough indication that Britvic had already taken a decision.

Ivan Mercer, GMB regional organiser, was quoted saying: “So far Britvic have failed to provide us with any meaningful evidence to support their current proposal to close this site by end of 2019.”

The GMB further said that it had not yet seen a comprehensive piece of work that supported the decision by Britvic to shut down the factory.

Case of going through the motions?

The union’s letter to Britvic stated: “As Britvic is aware, GMB and other parties are questioning if the current consultation process is genuine, or whether the company is merely going through the motions.

“GMB, in particular, is frustrated that important queries have to date gone unanswered, and I am specifically concerned that Britvic has so far failed to present any economic evidence or modelling to support its proposal.”

During the meeting, Britvic explained how it had outlined its first phase of redundancies scheduled to start in June next year. According to the GMB, this will affect up to 39 employees, 13 of them on fixed-term contracts, and 20 agency staff.

Mercer also indicated that Britvic was running job adverts for some new positions at its Rugby factory. However, a Britvic spokesman alleged that the investment at the Rugby factory had been announced earlier and as such, had no links with the Norwich plant proposals.

No decision before “full and proper consultation”

Britvic, however, refuted GMB’s allegations saying they were totally untrue, with a spokesman at the company stating: “We’ve made a proposal and no decisions will be made prior to full and proper consultation which we are undertaking at present.”

According to Britvic, the job advertisements appearing at the Ruby plant were “in relation to the normal running of the sire, as would be expected due to employee turnover” – and not related to the consultation on Norwich site.

At the beginning of October, Britvic announced its plans to shut down its Norwich factory, jeopardizing 242 jobs.

Britvic’s proposal will mean the production of its Robinsons and Fruit Shoot drinks will be transferred to factories in Leeds, East London and Rugby. In case the plan is carried out, it will lead to the closing of the site towards the end of 2019.

The company defended the proposed closure of the plant saying that it was part of its strategies to enhance its manufacturing operations’ efficiency and productivity. Britvic’s board of directors are into consultation with the affected employees as well as Unilever. Unilever co-owns the factory.