Page last updated at 21:41 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Twinings workers begin campaign

Workers set to lose their jobs when tea manufacturer Twinings moves operations abroad are to launch a campaign to raise awareness about their plight.

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

The parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) has said any redundancies would take effect in 2011.

Employees and their union USDAW took part in talks at Andover Guildhall on Tuesday.

Profit margins

Sarah Evans and Tom McCann, the Labour and Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidates for North West Hampshire, respectively, were due to address the public meeting.

Sir George Young, the town's MP, did not attend.

BBC South reporter Joe Campbell said: "Sir George said he understood why the company wanted to make the move, given the demand that international businesses will go where they make the most profits."

But Adrian McMillan, who has worked for Twinings for 20 years as an engineer at the factory, said: "Basically it is case of waiting to see if there is a job at the end of the year.

"If not then [I] have to try to find somewhere else, which is very limited at the moment."

Last month, workers gathered in Great Russell Street in central London ahead of the shareholders' annual general meeting of ABF.

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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