Nestle have announced that their factory in Fawden, Newcastle is to close with the loss of 474 jobs.
The multinational food giant is now in talks with staff about the future. The company plans to move most of the production to the other side of the Pennines in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
In a statement, the company said: ‘It remains a priority to support our people and their families through this process and we thank everybody for their patience.’
Confectionary has a long history at Fawden, with household favourites in production there since 1958. But the future of the plant has been uncertain since Nestle announced its intention to close it last April.
The closure plans are a blow for regional efforts to turn the north into an economic powerhouse, and strike an awkward background note for the government as it contemplates the reaction to its Levelling Up White Paper.
The Workers Union Says…
Any time a major employer closes a factory, the people who powered its success are the ones to suffer. It was the same story when the last rivet was driven in the Glasgow shipyards and the chattering of the powered looms of the North of England finally fell silent.
That it should happen at all is bad enough. That it should happen when the country is set to be hammered by a cost of living crisis, only compounds the issue.
Of course we cannot blame the government for sky rocketing energy prices and the fast-decreasing power of the pound in our pockets. Many of these issues have their origin in world-wide shortages that are largely beyond the control of national policy making. But events like the closure of the Fawden plant shine a light on the urgent need to refashion our thinking about regional development. To compete in the modern world, our country needs to train people with the skills to create and maintain successful businesses across growth sectors such as environmental science, technology and engineering. Only this way can we build sufficient resilience against the sudden departure of major employers.
None of this will make an immediate difference to the hard-working people that may yet see the middle bored out of their livelihoods. They need options that click the lights on in the darkest part of the cellar. For them levelling up must see funded retraining and skills development become an urgent priority, not a distant ambition.