Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tea workers to hold jobs protest

Twinings tea
The proposed redundancies would not take effect until 2011

Angry tea workers set to lose their jobs when a Twinings manufacturing site is closed and another down-sized, will protest at a shareholders meeting.

Up to 129 jobs will go at the firm's Hampshire base in Andover and 263 jobs will be axed when its North Shields plant in Tyne and Wear shuts.

The tea firm said Andover would become its main UK site, but it plans to move production to Poland and China.

Workers from both sites will lobby shareholders in London on Friday.

The company, which is owned by Associated British Foods (ABF), has begun a staff consultation and said any redundancies would take effect in 2011.

'No future'

Mike Parsonage, of the shopworkers' union Usdaw, said: "Twinings are moving abroad to seek cheap labour.

"If we allow this to happen, no manufacturing jobs will have a future in the UK."

Last Month, Twinings international supply director Marcus Cotter-Stone said: "This is a very difficult but necessary step which will allow Twinings to remain competitive in our markets worldwide and take full advantage of future growth opportunities.

"Under the current proposal, the Andover plant will take over production for the UK market because it has the capacity to support the long-term growth of Twinings' business in the UK."

He added: "The majority of our tea is imported and packaged here in the UK prior to being re-exported and this is not efficient."

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