Following the Britvic announcement, Unilever lost no time in announcing a review of its Norwich operations with a final decision to be made by the end of November. “The review will look in detail at the impact of Britvic’s proposed withdrawal from the site and will consider options for the most effective sourcing of the current Norwich product range”, said Unilever. “One of those options will include the potential closure of our Norwich factory.”
Some 120 workers are employed making Unilever products at Norwich, organized by IUF affiliates GMB and Unite. The GMB has been in a long dispute with Unilever UK over access to financial performance data for the site which would allow it to effectively bargain wages for the production workers it represents at Norwich. Unilever claims it cannot supply that information. In June, the union filed an application to the government Central Arbitration Committee over the company’s failure to provide information needed for collective bargaining.
Unite, which also represents workers at Britvic, issued a press release on October 3 declaring that “Unite will not only be seeking assurances, but applying pressure with the support of the local community, that the production and the much-needed jobs that are vital for the Norwich economy remain.”