HEINZ has delivered another blow to its Wigan workforce.
Up to 25 Food Research and Development Staff positions will go as the key department is centralised in the Netherlands. It leaves Heinz Kitt Green –Europe’s biggest canned foods factory – with only a skeleton staff of 15 food technologists.
Staff affected are being offered relocation packages to the proposed new Dutch centre in Nijmegen. But few are expected to agree to make the move from Wigan to Holland.
The move follows confirmation last month that the company is shedding payroll jobs in a review of wages department staff across the UK.
Heinz Unite union branch chiefs had no one available to make a public statement about the decision.
A company spokesman said that opening the new research and development centre in Holland was part of the European growth agenda and would have more than 100 staff with room for expansion. The centre will open in December 2012.
The current Heinz research department in Nijmegen, which works for Heinz tomato ketchup and sauces in Europe and Heinz Dutch brands such as Honig and Brinta, will be integrated with the new centre. Heinz say the location has been chosen because it is at the heart of the region where all expertise on food and health in Holland is already bundled and therefore offers an attractive workplace for top talent in the field of product development.
He said that collective consultation at Kitt Green concerning the new research centre has been concluded and they were now moving to the next stage of affected staff indicating whether they wish to be considered for transfer.
He said: “Around 40 staff at Kitt Green have been involved in the consultation with around 15 roles remaining at the site.
“It will be the biggest R and D innovation centre outside the United States and will help us get new products and ideas to the marketplace faster and more efficiently.”
Last month the company has announced that 10 clerical jobs could go at the Kitt Green factory after a re-organisation of company payroll and attendance functions.
An employee source claimed the firm was considering centralising the departments within a third party operation elsewhere and workers affected have been given 30 days’ notice.