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Uncertain times for Matthews Workers

PUBLISHED: 18:01 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 07:17 01 August 2010

WORKERS at turkey giant Bernard Matthews face an uncertain future after bosses admitted they were planning to lay off staff.

The Great Witchingham-based firm, which employs 2,600 in East Anglia - more than 1,000 of them at its Holton factory and more than 6,000 nationally, has revealed plans for a reduction in worker numbers to meet lower production requirements.

WORKERS at turkey giant Bernard Matthews face an uncertain future after bosses admitted they were planning to lay off staff.

The Great Witchingham-based firm, which employs 2,600 in East Anglia - more than 1,000 of them at its Holton factory and more than 6,000 nationally, has revealed plans for a reduction in worker numbers to meet lower production requirements.

Officials at the company said the cuts were “seasonal” following peak production of turkeys for sale over Christmas.

Numbers have yet to be confirmed and it is not clear what positions will be affected, but the first jobs are expected to go after Easter.

It was also not clear whether the workers are on temporary or permanent contracts or whether the cuts will involve compulsory redundancies, but the company said it was in negotiations with union officials at the Unite union.

A statement from the firm said: “Bernard Matthews can confirm that following consultation with its trade union, a phased lay-off programme may be implemented to match its labour force to current production requirements. This will likely take effect after Easter.

“We are unable to provide any further information on this programme until the final details are confirmed.

“We have a clear business strategy in place to create a sustainable future for Bernard Matthews - focused on our British turkey farming and making great tasting turkey products that meet the needs of consumers today.”

Miles Hubbard, regional industrial organiser for Unite, said the union was holding meetings with company bosses to discuss the proposals.

The firm has suffered in recent years, not least due to an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu at Holton a year ago.

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