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Cadbury factories shed 700 jobs

3 October 07 10:07 GMT

Confectionery giant Cadbury Schweppes is to close its Keynsham factory, near Bristol, by 2010 with the loss of about 500 jobs.

It said a further 200 jobs would go at its Bournville plant, in Birmingham.

Staff in Keynsham were told during an emergency meeting early on Wednesday the phased closure would begin in 2009.

The Keynsham production will be moved to factories in Poland and Bournville as part of a wider cost reduction plan announced in June.

As part of the move the Bournville plant will receive a £40m investment.

Earlier this year, Cadbury Schweppes had said it would cut 7,500 jobs and close about 15% of its manufacturing sites.

Cadbury said its other two UK chocolate manufacturing sites, at Chirk in North Wales and Leominster in Herefordshire, would be "unaffected" by the plans.

'Productive site'

The phased closure of Keynsham is set to be completed in 2010.

One worker who heard the announcement said: "I live in Keynsham and this will have a huge impact. I depend on this (job) for my mortgage and the town's economy will suffer when it (the factory) closes.

"Mind you I have to take my hat off to them (Cadbury Schweppes) because we've been told we will get help to find another job."

The union Unite which represents workers at the Keynsham plant said selling the site would raise millions for Cadbury.

"Somerdale {Keynsham] is a profitable site, a productive plant and part of Bristol's heritage as well as our manufacturing history," said Brian Revell, Unite national organiser for food and agriculture condemning the company's behaviour.

'Very sad day'

"Now in a move which could realise millions in land value a key UK manufacturing operation is to be exported to Poland.

"We were always told Keynsham was safe because there was no capacity to make its products elsewhere," he added.

"It seems the truth is that means no capacity in the UK but plenty in Poland."

"We will support our members in fighting this decision," he added.

Show gratitude

The Conservative councillor for Keynsham, on Bath and North East Somerset Council Charles Gerrish said: "This is a shock, a bolt from the blue and very disappointing. We thought the factory was secure. It's a very, very sad day."

In 2003, 170 jobs were cut from the Keynsham factory. At the same time a two-year programme to install new technology and increase efficiency was announced.

"News of the factory's closure is a hard and heavy blow, not just to the workforce, but to the Keynsham community as a whole," said the Labour MP for Wansdyke, Dan Norris.

"I have held a series of meetings and discussions with senior Cadbury Schweppes directors over the summer where I have been arguing that any closure should be implemented over years rather than months.

"I shall be meeting Cadbury again today [Wednesday] following my last meeting with directors yesterday evening and will urge the company directors to show their gratitude to the people of Keynsham by spending heavily on projects to benefit the local community before they leave us, and I hope, for a long time after.

"Given the hard work and dedication of the [Keynsham] workforce over four generations, it is frankly, the very least Cadbury can do."

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