EMOTIONAL workers have again hit out at owners Vion after many left the Hall’s of Broxburn factory for the last time.
Workers were said to have left in tears yesterday as 150 staff from the butchering and packing section became the first to lose their jobs.
The plant, which employs a 1700 people in total, has now shut down its abattoir, with the rest of the site set to follow by February next year.
Union convener, Esther Stewart, said: “People were very upset and women were crying.”
Tom Davidson, of Broxburn, was among those now left unemployed. The 56-year-old had worked in the factory for 20 years.
He said: “I was working in butcher’s dispatch and I only got my final notice last Saturday. I’ve just got to get on with it now, there’s nothing I can do. I don’t have anything lined up at the moment.
“The whole thing has been extremely badly handled by the people in charge. The top bosses haven’t been around so there’s been no one for us to speak to about anything.
“The first we heard that the plant was definitely closing was on the six o’clock news.”
It was confirmed last month that efforts to save the West Lothian meat-processing plant had failed, after Vion announced they had refused two offers to buy the factory.
Workers branded bosses “an absolute disgrace” after it emerged that many were not told of the factory’s imminent closure before the news was released to the press, with some discovering that they were to lose their jobs through social media sites. Mr Davidson continued: “A lot of people were told there would be jobs for them for the next few months, but now they’ve lost that big Asda order it looks like that has fallen through.”
Asda, the last major supermarket to have a contract with the company, said it had given Vion three months’ notice that its pork contract with Hall’s would end on December 31, adding that the decision was “not taken lightly”.
A spokesman for Vion UK said: “We’re still assessing the implications of Asda’s decision and what impact that will have on our plans for the phased closure of the facility.”
Meanwhile, other workers leaving the plant yesterday were facing an uncertain future, with 28 further jobs expected to be lost next week.
Graham Black, 46, of Bathgate, who has worked for the company for 15 years, said: “I think I’ll be here until the plant closes, but it could be before that, I don’t know for sure.
“People are getting letters week by week. This is a very small community and people here have worked together a long time and formed close friendships, so this is all very upsetting and stressful.”
Anthony Sperring, 60, who lives in Kirkcaldy, has been told he will be leaving the plant next Friday.
He said: “I was hired seven months ago to work on maintenance on the production line and was given absolutely no hint that something like this might happen. Then I get told four weeks ago that I need to find another one [job].
“The atmosphere inside the factory is terrible. People want to know now what’s happening and when they will be leaving and are not being given the information.”
Tracy Gilbert, area organiser for the Usdaw union, said: “Today has been hugely stressful for the employees at the factory. Many of them have worked together for years and this could be the last time they see each other. It’s devastating for the individuals involved.
“As of yesterday we were informed that a further 28 jobs from the butchery department are set to go next week, but this is based on orders the company could potentially change.”