Page last updated at 20:38 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009

Twinings staff stage AGM protest


Shareholders of the Twinings Tea company speak out

Employees of tea manufacturer Twinings have gathered outside a shareholders' meeting to protest against plans to move operations abroad and cut staff.

Nearly 300 jobs are expected to be lost at the company's manufacturing plants in Hampshire and Tyne and Wear.

Workers gathered in Great Russell Street ahead of the annual general meeting of parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) on Friday.

ABF said any redundancies would take effect in 2011.

Protesters handed leaflets to the arriving shareholders.

Mike Parsonage of USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) said: "The problem is that our manufacturing base is much lower than most of our major competitors in Europe and unless we stop this constant drift of manufacturing jobs abroad I think we've got real problems as a country."

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Protesters holding banners handed leaflets to shareholders as they entered the building.

Twinings employee Peter Millward said: "We can keep these jobs in this country. We need to keep these jobs in this country and we're going to try and get that across to them."

Up to 129 people, about half the work force, are expected to lose their jobs at a Twinings manufacturing site in Andover, Hampshire.

The move is part of plans to close its North Shields plant in Tyne and Wear - with the loss of 263 jobs - and upgrade its remaining UK production facilities.

The tea firm said the Andover operation would become its main UK site if the plan went ahead.

Under the proposals, production of tea destined for overseas markets would be moved to Poland and China.

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