The proposed job losses represent more than a quarter of the total workforce at the plant.
UB ceo Martin Glenn informed staff of the plan when he met with each shift at the Toll Cross factory in Scotland on November 28.
“He delivered devastating and wholly unexpected bad news that there would be 202 job losses out of the 700 jobs at the plant,” said Harry Donaldson, secretary, GMB Scotland.
“His message was bitter sweet as he also announced the badly needed investment plans that the plant has been crying out for over many years.”
The cuts have prompted the union to petition the Scottish government and local MP Margaret Curran to set up a taskforce to tackle under-investment and lack of development in Toll Cross.
With the announcement coming less than a month before Christmas, the timing could not have been worse and the GMB aimed to support its members through the difficult period, said Donaldson.
The union said it was seeking an early meeting with the company, which wanted the restructuring completed by mid-2015.
In a statement, UB said: “UB can confirm that it has today announced proposals to restructure working practices and manufacturing operations at our Tollcross site. This is part of our ongoing commitment to deliver a modern, efficient and competitive operation and without these changes Tollcross will not have a sustainable future in the local community.
“We are now discussing the proposal with employees, employee representatives and local government. We have been working with Scottish Enterprise and appreciate their support that has enabled us to safeguard jobs.
“However, regrettably we do anticipate redundancies through this process and are committed to working with all parties to minimise the impact. Individuals who may be impacted will be able to benefit from the PACE [Partnership Action for Continuing Employment] outplacement programme.”
It stressed the restructuring would not just involve job losses, but would also offer opportunities to create 36 new roles, constituting overall net job losses of 166. In addition, the changes would offer the potential for up to 19 line operators to be promoted.
Meanwhile, UB continues to work to resolve industrial action at its Jacob’s plant at Aintree amid changes to sick pay and rumours it was seeking to outsource production there to other factories. A series of three two-day strikes began at the plant on November 23 and is scheduled to run up to December 16.
Stuart Fegan, GMB national officer for food manufacturing, said on November 26: “The two days of strike at Aintree, which ended yesterday morning, was completely solid with no production taking place on the Aintree site for the whole of the two days.
“Our members have been encouraged not just by the solidarity of the workers at the Aintree site but also from the other sites in the UK and our sister unions internationally.
“Senior managers at UB have now to decide whether the continuing loss of production conservatively estimated at £8,000 per hour is worth sustaining rather than engaging in meaningful talks with GMB.”
Yildiz Holdings, the parent company of Turkish food business Ulker Biskuvi Sanayi, announced on November 5 it had agreed to buy UB, ending months of speculation over a potential sale.