This past May, when Heinz announced record full-year (fiscal 2011 ending April 30) results – and the closure of 5 plants and the elimination of some 1,000 jobs – the company didn’t offer too many details.
The announcement simply stated that 2 plants would be closed in the United States, 2 in Europe, and one in the Pacific – without specifying where. We soon learned that the closures would involve the frozen soup facility in King of Prussia (US state of Pennsylvania), the prepared meals plant in Międzychód in Poland and the sauces plant in Girgarre in Australia (and job cuts in Brisbane and Wagga Wagga).
The 4th plant closure was announced on October 11: the ketchup and tomato canning plant in Stockton, California, which employs 140 workers, all members of the IUF-affiliated Teamsters union.
And while Australian workers were given from 7-12 months’ notice of the job cuts, Heinz has announced that the Stockton cannery is to close on December 2 – giving 1 ½-months’ notice to workers and their union.
In its announcement, Heinz offered no specific rationale for the choice of the Stockton cannery. It merely repeated the general statement made in May about “global initiatives to drive productivity and future growth, and help offset rapidly rising commodity costs to help make Heinz more competitive….” This only confirms what we said earlier: that the announcement was a tactic to please investors. Now the company is scrambling to make good on the promise of 5 factory closures by making decisions without reference to any industrial rationale.