Burton’s Biscuits job losses: ‘sad for the area’

The Burton's biscuit factory in Edinburgh employs around 800 staff. Picture: Scott Taylor
The Burton's biscuit factory in Edinburgh employs around 800 staff. Picture: Scott Taylor
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MORE than 60 jobs are set to go at the Burton biscuit factory, the company has announced.

Senior management have been locked in negotiations with the GMB union after the company announced that it was looking for 64 employees to take voluntary redundancy.

The firm, which employs more than 800 permanent and agency staff at the Sighthill factory, is embarking on a 30-day consultation process and undertaking a business review.

However union leaders have vowed to do everything in their powers to oppose the move at Burton’s long-standing base. The firm had insisted jobs at the Edinburgh plant would be safeguarded when it was bought over by a Canadian pension fund in a £350 million deal last year.

Christina Lambie from the GMB union said: “We are opposing the move by Burton’s to bring voluntary redundancy on the workforce.

“It’s a similar reaction to what we’re seeing with a lot of manufacturers up and down the country.

“We will certainly be looking to mitigate the potential number of job losses and if possible ensure no-one has to leave.”

A spokesman for the company said: “Burton’s Biscuits Company continually reviews its business to identify the changes that are required to improve capability and competitiveness and 64 roles will regrettably be made redundant at Burton’s Edinburgh facility.

“The company met with the GMB union yesterday at which time all affected employees were communicated with and we will now enter a minimum 30-day consultation period.”

The move comes three years after a £5 million investment in the site to improve chocolate biscuit production. In addition to its own brands, Burton’s makes a variety of products for Cadbury, including the Caramel, Crunchie and Turkish Delight ranges.

The Edinburgh plant – one of Burton’s three across the UK – was upgraded in 2011 with the installation of equipment for wrapping biscuits in chocolate.

Community leaders today spoke of their shock at the prospect of redundancies at the local institution. Burton’s is the UK’s second-biggest biscuit manufacturer, after United 

Local councillor and city Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “Obviously I am really saddened to hear that. The Burton biscuit factory is a real institution in the area and has a very long-standing history. I have spoken to people who have long retired who worked there. There is a very long and happy association with the biscuit factory. I would even say that if the wind is in the right direction that it creates a lovely smell.

“It’s part of the fabric of the area. It’s of great concern that they appear to be cutting back numbers.”

Cllr Wilson said he hoped that the redundancies could be done on a purely voluntary basis, and that the reshuffle would “protect the long-term security of the company”.

He added: “People who are now well into their 70s remember working there as girls. The factory also has a very strong involvement in the area in terms of charities and groups.”

Fellow ward councillor Denis Dixon said: “It’s not good news for the area. It’s sad news to hear that anyone is losing their job, especially at this moment in time. If it’s voluntary, hopefully only those who are willing to go will be affected.

“The factory has been a long-term employer in the area, but the changes may be necessary. It is happening everywhere.”