Meeting with McVitie’s Management

06 Dec 2014

On Friday 5th December I met two representatives of McVitie’s management and was able to ask them a number of questions. Below are my notes of what management said with my comment at the end.

Firstly they gave me an overview and stressed that the Tollcross factory had been in serious danger of closing down completely as it had the highest costs of United Biscuits’ 7 UK plants. Production had been 50,000 tonnes but has been falling. The Company is facing serious competition from international competitors. Apparently the Tollcross plant has not hit budget for 10 years but is hoping to meet it in 2014.

They are spending £750,000 on improving the building and the roof will be replaced in phases. Scottish Enterprise have been providing support, e.g. financial help for training. They said they had been briefing staff through the last week. 485 jobs will be maintained with production going from 5 days to 7 and the 7 or 8 lines reducing to 4 in order to make production more efficient. In future the 7 United Biscuits plants will compete with each other to win the right to produce a particular product. Although the Tollcross factory is smaller than others, it is recognised as being more adaptable and better at innovation and new products. The Company’s aim is that all 7 sites should grow. They considered that the present position of some 17 shift patterns was not working. Their intention is to move to a ‘3 days on, 3 days off’ pattern of working, with all staff alternating between days and nights. They said they would listen and consult on this pattern (and other aspects of the plans) but they felt it was better for staff than ‘4 on, 4 off’ which some employers like Glasgow City Council use. One of their arguments is that switching all staff between night and day is better than permanent day or night shifts because it promotes consistency.

Apparently big customers tend to visit during the day. The management representatives said they are engaged in discussions with the unions (mainly GMB and Unite). The current plan is to reduce part time working. Some traditional practices like the building up of service days are likely to go. The timescales are that some jobs will go by voluntary redundancy fairly quickly – perhaps January. The aim is to have the new systems in place about July but things should be clearer in 3 months’ time. Overall it was very disappointing to hear of the job losses but a relief that the factory is not closing completely. The attitude of McVitie’s management seemed much better than Freshlink’s management when they closed some time ago. I am open to hearing from constituents/employees in the days ahead as things progress. I have told the management that I may well come back to them to raise further concerns or the cases of individual constituents.