UK: Unite touts Asda boycott over Vion contract

By Michelle Russell | 18 January 2013

Vion may be forced to close the lamb processing business on the Island of Anglesey due to the loss of its contract with Asda

Vion may be forced to close the lamb processing business on the Island of Anglesey due to the loss of its contract with Asda

The Unite trade union is calling on its members to consider boycotting Asda after the loss of a major contract with the retailer has left Vion's Welsh Country Foods facility facing closure.

Dutch food group Vion last week revealed it may be forced to close the lamb processing business on the Island of Anglesey due to the loss of its contract with Asda.

The troubled private-label pork producer that last month finalised an MBO deal for its UK arm, said Asda was a "key customer", accounting for around 50% of the site's business.

Unite last week urged Asda to "re-think" what it said is a "misguided strategy" and to work with Vion to establish "a viable future for Welsh Country Foods and to save these jobs".

However, following a meeting with Asda and Vion yesterday, Unite today (18 January) lambasted the retailer for "only committing to respond in writing within two weeks". It has called on its members to "consider their custom at Asda" if the supermarket fails to take action that could save 350 jobs.

"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," said Unite Wales secretary Andy Richards.

"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."

Local protests are being planned at Asda stores on Anglesey and in Bangor.

Vion employs around 8,000 staff across 30 facilities in the UK. The company, which put its UK business up for sale last month, has suffered from over-capacity in the meat sector. As a result, in October, it confirmed plans to close its Hall's of Broxburn processing facility having failed to find a "viable" buyer for the site.

A spokesperson for Asda said: "We had a constructive meeting with Welsh Country Foods. We listened to their representations to which we will give full and thorough consideration and respond in due course."

Sectors: Meat & poultry, Retail

Companies: Asda, Vion

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