Press Releases

Time to ramp up support for Twinings workers

Campaign to meet on Tuesday (March 2) to plan next moves

Issued February 23rd 2010

CAMPAIGNERS TO save 400 Twinings tea workers’ jobs in Andover and North Shields have pledged to step up their campaign after the workers’ union, USDAW, announced that it would be balloting members at both sites for industrial action.

Andover’s Save Twinings Jobs support group will meet at Andover Railway Club next Tuesday evening to flesh out plans to fight the highly profitable firm’s plans to ditch the bulk of its UK workforce to chase cheap labour in Poland and China.

The move follows the campaign’s highly successful launch meeting in the Guildhall in January, which attracted a capacity audience and .

“Twinings workers are standing up for jobs in Andover and they deserve nothing less than our total support,” campaign organiser Derek Kotz said today.

“It is time to let Twinings and Associated British Foods know that what they are planning to do is wrong, and our responsibility is to ramp up the pressure on Twinings to reverse a decision based solely on corporate greed.

“If Twinings goes ahead with these plans it will demonstrate that its reputation as a quintessentially British firm built on quality and loyalty is a sham, and it will do untold damage to its own branding and market positioning.

“Andover has already lost far too many jobs and what we need now is not lip service and advice not to rock the boat but genuine and practical support for workers who are doing our town a massive service by fighting for jobs.

“On Tuesday we will be putting together a high-profile campaign, and we will be demanding to know if Twinings is to get subsidy from British taxpayers in the form of EU grants for moving production to Poland

“Everyone is welcome, and anyone wanting to help the campaign can contact me on 07939 595 092,” Derek Kotz  said.

ends

For further information please contact Derek Kotz on 07939 595 092

Notes to editors: In November 2009 Twinings, a subsidiary of ABF, announced that it would be closing its North Shields plant at the cost of 263 jobs, cutting 129 jobs at Andover and moving the bulk of its production to Poland and China.

Save Jobs at Twinings will meet at the Andover Railway Club, Station Approach, on Tuesday March 2 at 7.30pm.

Facebook group, Save Twinings North Shields has more than 4,000 members.

Support by MPs for a parliamentary motion calling on Twinings to reverse its decision has reached the 30 mark – although NW Hampshire MP George Young is not yet among the signatories.

Early Day Motion 200, Twinings

Tabled by John McDonnell MP, and signed to date by 24 others

“That this House expresses its concern that Twinings intends to close down its North Shields plant, resulting in the loss of 263 jobs, and to shed 129 jobs from its Andover plant and move the majority of its production to Poland and China; notes that Twinings and its parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) remain hugely profitable, making in excess of £56 million; further notes the adverse impact that this decision will have on the local economies and people of North Shields and Andover; therefore calls on Twinings and ABF to reverse their decision and to maintain their plant in North Shields and full production in Andover; and calls on the Government to intervene as a matter of urgency to prevent such unnecessary loss of jobs in the UK.”

The latest list of signatories can be viewed at:

http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=39740&SESSION=903

Support messages include:

North Tyneside MP Stephen Byers “The proposed closure of this plant must be resisted. We simply cannot afford to lose this number of jobs.”

“Twinings trades as the quintessentially British tea company, but if it is prepared to sacrifice the bulk of its UK workforce simply to increase its profit margins that reputation will be exposed as a sham. These jobs are vitally important to the town and its economy, just as they are in North Shields, and we would urge everyone to let Twinings know that these cuts should be reversed.” 
Sarah Evans, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, North West Hampshire

"The company should explore all other options. Twinings is an important part of Andover's economy. A successful and expanding Twinings factory is essential of the future of the Walworth industrial park and of Andover. Equally Twinings needs Andover and its work force. The company must sit down with the unions and other parties to find ways of protecting and expanding production on this site."
Tom McCann, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, North West Hampshire

Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell: “The ability of employers to offshore work during the recession should act as a wake-up call to government, which must now intervene to protect jobs.”

Green Party leader and South East MEP Caroline Lucas: “We must send a strong message to Associated British Foods that its plans to drop 400 Twinings workers in Andover and North Shields are unacceptable.

“Undercutting UK workers by shifting production abroad for cheap labour has become a common tactic for corporations all too ready to be guided by the destructive forces of globalisation – which have already destroyed so much of our industry.

“I fully support the campaign to prevent the loss of jobs, including those in my South East constituency – and stand in solidarity with the workers whose lives would be turned upside down by such a move.

 “ABF shareholders must now see sense and recognise that the company’s proud and highly skilled UK workforce is intrinsic to the respected Twinings brand.”

 Peter Skinner, MEP for the South East of England "It is important to recognise the loyal and hard work put in by Twinings staff at Andover over the years assisting in substantial profits for the company. To relocate because of cheaper labour does not recognise the skills and commitent of the present staff and is disgraceful. I fully support the campaign to save the jobs at risk and would be more than happy to assist at European level if required.”

 Support messages have also been received from:

Andover and Salisbury RMT Branch
Jennie Formby, UNITE National Secretary Food Drink & Tobacco Sector 
Ian Woodland, UNITE South East Regional Industrial Organiser 
Peter Wilcox, FBU Regional Secretary for the North East
Ricky Matthews, FBU Regional Secretary for the South 
Simon Elliott, PCS Regional Secretary for the North East
Tom Taylor, PCS Regional Secretary for the South East

North West
Hampshire Constituency Labour Party
New Forest East Constituency Labour Party

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