The Walkers factory in Peterlee will close with the loss of more than 300 jobs this New Year’s Eve.
The snack firm’s bosses have told staff that the closure for the North East Industrial Estate factory will go ahead after proposals were first announced at the start of March.
The decision will lead to the loss of 355 production work roles and 25 HGV drivers, with around 150 agency posts also expected to be affected.
The team was told of PepsiCo’s decision at a meeting at Hardwick Hall Hotel, where they were given their individual terms of redundancy.
Trade union GMB is offering support to the workers as they enter the next stage of consultation.
No other snack firm has been found to take on the site, which has operated as a crisp factory since 1960 under various companies and been run by Walkers since 1989.
We appreciate that this is very difficult news for everyone at the Peterlee site.Tracey Foster
Its current products include Crinkles, Walkers Sensations, Scampi Fries, Bacon Fries, Cheese Moments and Cheetos Twisted.
Tracey Foster, Peterlee manufacturing director at PepsiCo UK, said: “Following a period of consultation with the trade union and other employee representatives, PepsiCo has decided to proceed with the proposal to close the manufacturing site at Peterlee by the end of December 2017.
“We appreciate that this is very difficult news for everyone at the Peterlee site.
“We would like to emphasise that this decision in no way reflects the performance of our colleagues at Peterlee and we remain very grateful for their hard work and commitment.
“Our priority now is supporting and providing assistance to our colleagues who are impacted by this decision as we move into the process of consulting with employees on an individual basis about what this means for them personally”
“Peterlee has been an important site for our business but the proposal presents significant productivity and efficiency savings crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainable growth of our business in the UK.”
Michael Hunt, regional organiser for GMB with responsibility for the factory, said: “Despite numerous representations and counter proposals, the company has decided to go ahead and close the site on December 31.
“The workers are devastated.
“It may seem like a long way off, December 31, but it will come around quickly.
“More than 300 people will be looking for jobs and it will not just be individuals, but whole families and it will have a knock on affect to the community as well.
“The union will continue to support and advise members as the process moves forward.
“I’m disappointed with the company in relation to the way I feel the consultation went and there are a couple of issues that still need to be discussed.
“There have been rumours circulating that the site will close earlier than December 31, and we have asked that question a number of times and at this meeting, and they have confirmed it will not close any earlier.”