Meat processor Dunbia has spoken out to quash rumours about redundancies at one of its Welsh sites.
170 people are currently employed at a leased facility in Felinfach, and a recent partnership has made workers fear for their jobs.
New agreement completed
Dunbia recently completed a strategic partnership and acquisition agreement with Dawn Meats, following regulatory approval. Because of this, some employees feared that they would start to close down sites, beginning with the Felinfach facility because it is only leased.
Out of the 1,100 people in food jobs with Dunbia, another 600 are employed at an abattoir in Llanybydder. The rest work at the Cross Hands facility owned by the firm.
The Felinfach site was first opened in December 2013, catering for a large retail contract which had recently been secured at the time. The funding came from a £1.8 million grant from the Welsh government, coupled with a further £7.5 million put in by Dunbia themselves.
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the leased facility appeared to be first on the chopping block. When Jonathan Edwards, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, the Ceredigion AM Elin Jones, and a representative of Dunbia reportedly met at the Welsh Assembly, it only fuelled the rumours even further. However, Dunbia were quick to put out a statement assuring employees that all is well – and even hinting at the possibility of new food recruitment in the area to come.
Statement from the group
“Media speculation about planned job cuts ... is inaccurate,” said a spokesperson for the firm. “We have a long-standing and proud history as a major employer in Wales, and as a supporter of Welsh farming, which we plan to continue. Currently we have over 1,100 staff in Wales between our three facilities, and investment is likely to see the numbers employed increase rather than decline.”
However, the picture might not be so good for employees at the leased site after all. The spokesperson did admit that Dunbia is “reviewing its factory footprint in Wales”. Without saying it in so many words, there do appear to have been hints that the leased facility may not stay in the company’s hands for much longer.
They said, “Felinfach is a leased facility, while Cross Hands and Llanybydder are flagship factories owned by the group, which have both seen significant investment in recent years, and our future plans are to invest and grow these operations even further.”
The partnership between Dawn Meats and Dunbia was first announced in May 2017. It was not given regulatory approval until September, when the deal finally went ahead. The UK-based businesses have now officially combined, and they continue to trade under the name Dunbia. Former Dunbia Chief Executive Officer Jim Dobson was able to continue in his role over the new partnership, while the Chief Executive Officer of Dawn Meats – Niall Browne – was given the position of Executive Chairman.
Reading between the lines of their statement, it appears that the firm now plans to invest more into the facilities that they currently own, making it possible for production to continue solely at these sites. Although it may take some time for that to happen, presumably it will mean the closure of their leased facility. Employees will be hoping that they are offered employment at one of the existing facilities rather than redundancy.
For some, though, the changes will necessitate a change in employment – whether for better or for worse. Not all will be able to travel to new sites, and some may even prefer a redundancy package over continued employment.