Forty-five workers at a Mondelez International factory in Belgium making cheese spreads including Dairylea and Sottilette are being made redundant as a result of reduced volumes at the plant.
The factory in the central city of Namur – one of three Mondelez production sites in Belgium – employs around 400 workers. Around a third of production at the site is earmarked for the UK market, and the remainder for the rest of Europe.
A spokesperson said “a combination of factors” was responsible for the decision. “We always like to make sure we are operating as efficiently as possible, and we have had reduced volume at the site,” he said. “We are part of a production network, making multiple products in multiple sites, and with volumes down, redundancies are necessary.” However, he added of those 45 job losses, a proportion would be voluntary redundancies.
“This decision should allow the Namur plant, where the cheeses are made mainly for the English, Italian and Spanish markets, to secure a longer-term future,” the spokesperson said. “Faced with a disrupted economic environment and a reduction in volume of production, notably due to Brexit and strong competition with other producers on the European market, the company must adapt to make the Namur in the current and future markets.”
In order to put an end to uncertainty for the staff, Mondelez said it wanted to start a consultation process on the job cuts as soon as possible.
“We know that the period ahead will be difficult, but we believe this action is necessary to ensure the future of the Namur plant. It is in this spirit that we are addressing everyone: even if we are going to have a tough course in the short term, the longer-term future is within our reach,” factory director Philippe Jordens said.
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Worldwide, Mondelez shed 9,000 jobs last year according to the company’s 2017 annual report. The majority of the job losses occurred outside the US, where the employee headcount remained at around 12,000 despite last year’s layoffs at the Nabisco bakery in Chicago.
The reductions are largely a result of the company’s ongoing efforts to monitor costs and improve efficiency, which include streamlining the supply chain and zero-based budgeting.
“We are tired of the number of employee decreases, while increasing profits,” CNE trade union representative Michel Duby said in a statement.