Everything we know so far about potential job losses at Haribo in Pontefract and Castleford

Confectionery producer Haribo has confirmed it has entered into a consultation process with staff regarding redundancies at its Castleford site. This is everything we know so far about the proposals.

Monday, 7th September 2020, 5:02 pm
Updated Monday, 7th September 2020, 5:09 pm
Confectionery producer Haribo has confirmed it has entered into a consultation process with staff regarding redundancies in Pontefract and Castleford. Picture is a sign for the Pontefract outlet shop in 2011.

Haribo was founded in 1920, and came to West Yorkshire in 1972, when it bought into Dunhills, the owner of Pontefract Cakes.

It acquired full ownership of the company in 1997, and has retained a presence in the Five Towns ever since, with an outlet shop in Pontefract and a a £92m factory and distribution centre, which opened in Castleford in 2015.

But the manufacturer, best known for its Starmix, Gummy Bear and Maoam brands, confirmed this weekend that it was considering cutting jobs at the site.

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It is understood that the cuts would come over the next 18 months.

The GMB union, which represents Haribo staff in the UK, said it believed up to 207 jobs - around a third of the company's UK workforce - could be lost in Pontefract and Castleford.

As part of the proposed changes, the brand's MAOAM sweets would also switch production to a centralised global location.

Managing Director of HARIBO UK, Jon Hughes, saud: “We can confirm that we have started discussions with our colleagues about proposals to protect the long-term future of HARIBO manufacturing in Yorkshire.

"The UK has become a manufacturing centre of excellence in the global HARIBO network. But to protect this position, we must respond to significant rising costs and the demands of a highly competitive market.

"None of these proposals are taken lightly. They are driven by the need to secure a sustainable future that will safeguard our proud heritage in Yorkshire and enable continued investment in our people and brands.

"Our priority now is our colleagues. We will provide all the support necessary as we consult with them about the best way to protect the future of HARIBO manufacturing in the UK.”

What is being done to support the staff?

Wakefield Council has confirmed it is working to support Haribo workers through the consultation period, including inviting them to seek new work through the council's Step Up service.

Coun Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: “It is very sad news that Haribo has felt the impact of competitive pressures within the global Haribo group, and has needed to take this action to maintain the competitiveness of the UK workforce.

“Haribo is one of the district’s biggest employers and whilst we welcome the £21M investment Haribo is planning to make in its Castleford operations, we will also do all that we can to support them and their workers through this difficult and challenging time.

“We are fully committed to helping and supporting people our district, in whichever way we can and this includes offering employment support, to help people to find alternative jobs as soon as possible.”

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said "urgent" help was needed from the government to prevent the job losses.

She said: “The country is already in recession - we badly need action from Government to prevent things getting worse.

“That means at Haribo we need support to help the workforce, to try to save jobs, and to try to prevent any job losses which are happening because of new machinery until after the recession is over.

“I am really worried not just about the job losses at Haribo, but also about the timing when so many other local jobs are being hit because of the recession.

"And I have been in touch with GMB trade union who represent Haribo workers and who are now assessing the proposals to see whether there are alternative ways to save jobs.”

What did the union say?

Lynn Brook, GMB Organiser said: "We're now awaiting further detail from the company on more than two hundred potential redundancies at Haribo's UK operation at the Pontefract and Castleford sites. It’s a bitter blow for these workers.

“Such a reduction would see a loss of almost a third of the workforce and would do immense untold damage to this area.

“Haribo are a major local employer and have been operating at the Pontefract site for half a century. The workers here have been working through the pandemic and this news comes as a hammer blow.

“GMB will be working tirelessly to support members affected by the proposals and fighting to save jobs wherever we can. Our union will be in there for the long-haul to defend our members' employment and explore all avenues to protect livelihoods.”

What did the government have to say?

A Government spokesperson said: “We understand this will be difficult news for Haribo’s employees and we stand ready to support them at this uncertain time.

"We have provided far-reaching support for businesses across industries to protect jobs and incomes throughout this crisis.

“Through our Plan for Jobs, we’ve announced a series of measures to protect, support and create jobs, including our £2bn Kickstart scheme and doubling the number of frontline work coaches.”