Nestlé accused of environmental double standards over Fawdon factory closure

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé's Fawdon factory - where 475 jobs are at risk due to a planned closure by the confectionery giant. Pic: Nestlé
Nestlé's Fawdon factory - where 475 jobs are at risk due to a planned closure by the confectionery giant. Pic: Nestlé

Related tags Nestlé COP26

Nestlé’s plan to close it Fawdon site in Newcastle and move production to other factories in the UK and Europe has faced fresh criticism from the unions because of its impact on the environment.

As part of the proposals, made in April this year, production would be moved from the factory in north east England to other sites in the UK and Europe –  including the Czech Republic, and the closure would see 475 jobs at risk at Fawdon, along with a further 98 at its York factory.

Nestlé has cited a need to reduce complexity across the business as the key driver behind the proposal.

Food miles

But both the GMB and Unite unions have attacked the move for the increase in food miles it would create, which they claimed contradicted the sustainability message the manufacturer was trying to share at COP26, where Nestlé was showcasing its Vegan Fruit Pastilles.

Ross Murdoch, GMB national officer, said: “Our members are disgusted Nestlé would use products they make to boost its green credentials – while planning behind the scenes to move their jobs to Eastern Europe”.

It’s crass, underhanded and insensitive. Moving production to the Czech Republic is clearly bad news for UK manufacturing - so much for Brexit retaining jobs and bringing jobs home.”

To facilitate the move, Nestlé said it is making a £20.2m investment at its York factory to modernise and increase production of KitKat and a further £9.2m investment at Halifax to "build on its existing expertise and equip the factory to take on the largest portion of Fawdon’s current production​".

After these proposed changes the majority of Nestlé Confectionery’s UK portfolio would continue to be manufactured in the UK. The UK will remain the largest manufacturer of Nestlé’s confectionery in Europe if these proposals go ahead.

When approached by ConfectioneryNews, a spokesperson for Nestlé said: “The consultation on the changes we proposed in April is still ongoing. It is right that these discussions are held directly with our employees and Trade Unions and not in public. We will provide an update once the consultation is complete and there is something new to say​.”

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