Union officials representing workers at UK biscuit maker Burton’s Foods believe they can maintain production and save jobs at a site the company is looking to partially close.

The T&G section of Unite told just-food today (27 July) that its plans can reduce costs at the site at Moreton on The Wirral and that, despite the prospect of jobs being lost, production can continue at the plant.

Burton’s is looking to scale back production at the site, a move that threatens some 600 jobs. However, the union yesterday presented its proposals to restructure the business to the Burton’s management, plans it insists will save the majority of jobs under threat.

Under the proposals, the union has identified savings of some GBP7.3m (US$14.8m) and put forward plans to focus production on Cadbury chocolate biscuits and set up a “centre of manufacturing excellence”.

A union spokesman admitted the plans would still see the loss of some 173 posts at the factory but said there are “growth opportunities at the site”.

“The Burton’s board recognises the growth opportunities available to them as a company; we see the growth opportunities in terms of Moreton and delivering on the Cadbury brand,” the union spokesman said.

The spokesman said Burton’s management – and its owners, the private equity group Duke Street Capital – is “looking at a strategy of cuts”.

Workers at Burton have “co-operated” with the company’s decisions in recent years to reduce costs by some GBP30m, the union spokesman said. He added that the changes had led to “direct losses” for Burton’s workers that could form the basis of compensation claims against the company.

Burton’s said it would give the union proposals its “full consideration”. The company added: “Burton’s Foods reaffirms that it has entered into consultations in a genuine and meaningful way.  The management has provided extensive information, beyond established practice for this type of process.”