ALMOST 100 staff at Heineken UK branches across Lothian are facing redundancy after the drinks giant announced plans to shift the bulk of its operations to Poland.
The job losses – mainly from the finance departments in Edinburgh and Livingston – are part of a major restructuring process “to maintain competitiveness” and will see the positions transferred to the firm’s global shared facilities in Krakow.
Staff at the South Gyle branch claimed their Polish colleagues were being flown to Edinburgh next year to “learn the ropes” before operations were relocated.
It is understood a first wave of 55 staff will loss their jobs in April next year with another 40 being made redundant by mid-2015.
One long-serving employee, who declined to be identified, said the news couldn’t have come at a worse time leaving many employees “distraught”.
“This is going to play on many people’s minds over the festive period,” he said.
“It’s not happening until March or April next year but that gives us a good few months to stew over it. Some of the workers have been here for 40 years. They were employed by the same company even though it’s changed its name from Scottish and Newcastle.
“There are lots of people for whom this has come out of the blue and they have mortgages and families.”
On the Krakow relocation, they said: “I think the idea is that they can employ a cheaper workforce over there and save a bit of money.
“I’ve been told some of the Polish staff are being brought over here to train.”
It is understood Heineken UK is working to help redundant staff members find employment elsewhere. Most of the affected workforce are likely to be based in the Livingston office with a “smaller number” from their Edinburgh HQ being made redundant.
Councillor Gavin Corbett, economy spokesman for Edinburgh Greens, said: “There’s never a good time to be made redundant, but less than three weeks before Christmas is among the worst.
“It’s important that the company works with authorities to identify other job and training options for staff losing jobs.
“And it’s a reminder of how important it is that we build a locally-based economy, with small to medium-sized businesses as its bedrock, and with real roots in the region.”
A Heineken UK spokesman said: “We are currently consulting on the impact of these changes with individuals, and considering their preferences for the future; including redeployment, relocation or early retirement. If unsuccessful in this process, affected colleagues’ roles would become redundant in April when they would leave the business. In the meantime, it is business as usual and all those affected have committed to maintain a total focus on our business.”
City roots go back to 1869
BREWING was once a pillar of industry in Edinburgh. In 1749, Younger’s opened in Leith, moving to the site that now plays host to the Scottish Parliament.
The Fountainbridge brewery was opened by William McEwan in 1856. In 1931 these two businesses merged into Scottish Brewers, becoming Scottish and Newcastle in May 1960, with the addition of Newcastle Brewers, then expanding again to become Scottish Courage. However, since it closed in 2004 the Capital has been home to only one brewery. The Caledonian Brewing Company, now owned by Heineken, can trace its roots in the city back to 1869.