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18 January 2013
Unite, the UK's largest union, has called on its members to 'start seriously considering their custom' at Asda as the superstore giant dithers on a decision that could save 350 jobs at Welsh Country Foods on Anglesey.
Following a meeting yesterday between Vion and the superstore chain, Unite has blasted Asda for only committing to respond in writing within two weeks.
Workers at the site in Gaerwen were hit by an announcement from the Vion Food Group last week that the fresh lamb business could be forced to close because its main customer, Asda had withdrawn its contract in favour of an alternative supplier.
Andy Richards, Unite Wales secretary said:“As the Asda hierarchy dithers on a decision, 350 workers and their families on Anglesey are being forced to face the fear of ongoing uncertainty about their future employment.
“I would urge the Asda management to quickly wake up to the reality of their earlier decision and do to the right thing and overturn it with immediate effect. Until they do our members and their families will be seriously considering their custom at Asda.
“Unite Wales is working closely with all those concerned – including the Welsh Government whose support and involvement is to be welcomed – and our number one priority remains doing everything we possibly can to keep these jobs on Anglesey.”
Unite national officer for the sector, Julia Long said:"Asda needs to be under no illusion that the Unite members on the Isle of Anglesey will be fully supported by Unite nationally in the campaign to retain these vital jobs on the island. Unite will take every opportunity at national level to help the workers at Welsh Country Foods.
"Asda, and all the other supermarkets, need to know that they can't make decisions nationally that could devastate local communities without a strong defence of jobs being mounted by unions, the workers and the affected communities."
Unite Wales regional officer for the North West Paddy McNaught stressed that members were set to take their action further:
“Asda's lack of action to overturn their earlier decision is very disappointing news for both our members at Welsh Country Foods and the community of Anglesey,
This demonstrates all too well the cavalier attitude large supermarkets seem to have when it comes to the retail food industry. The continued failure of Asda management to come to the decent decision will see us look to step up the pressure by calling on our members, their families and the farming community to begin a campaign of action at ASDA stores across the UK"
Local protests are already being planned at Asda stores on Anglesey and in Bangor.
Dutch-owned Vion UK, which employs 8,000 staff at 30 facilities across the UK, said on Friday 11 January that it was beginning the 90-day consultation process with unions and the workforce on the Isle of Anglesey.