UK union officials have slammed Bakkavor's decision to cut up to 170 jobs at a site in Lincolnshire and said the UK own-label group had axed further talks that were planned between the two sides.

Earlier today (7 December), Bakkavor confirmed that 170 staff were "at risk of redundancy" at its produce facility in Bourne.

Bakkavor announced in October that it was looking to cut jobs at the site amid falling sales and higher costs.

The initial plan had indicated that some 375 posts could be affected but Bakkavor said today that changing shift patterns and the transfer of workers to other sites had meant the number of Bourne staff to be made redundant was lower than first planned.

Bakkavor also said the remaining workers would not face any changes to hourly rates and would see overtime thresholds raised.

However, a "furious" Unite union said Bakkavor had announced its decision just a day after the company had agreed to further talks on the plans.

"We are particularly angry on behalf of the workforce that management has unilaterally announced the consultation is over when we still have meetings planned to look at alternatives to some of the proposals," Unite national officer Jennie Formby said.

Formby claimed Bakkavor had "savagely" cut earnings and "slashed" holiday pay. "Management are protected from these cuts," Formby said. "Yes there will be some redundancies but managers' pay and conditions remain intact."

She added: "It is crystal clear to us from the detailed knowledge we now have of the Bourne site that the savage attacks on the jobs and pay of these men and women are wholly unjustified and are only being made because of a catalogue of management incompetence over several years. 

"They have provided poor service to their customers, they have failed to allow for foreign exchange fluctuations and commissioning of new machinery has been so flawed that they are losing thousands every week. Unite has suggested a number of ways in which significant savings can be made and losses turned around - they are not in a 'make-or-break situation' but are trying to terrify workers into accepting poverty pay. This cannot be allowed to happen and Unite will be doing everything we can to secure fair treatment of these workers."

Unite said Bakkavor workers intend to protest at the cuts in Spalding on Friday week.

Officials at Bakkavor could not be reached for further comment as just-food went to press.