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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Up to 30 Barrow mill workers face axe

UP to 30 jobs at Barrow’s Kimberly-Clark tissue mill are to be axed.

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GLOBAL RECESSION: Paper mill manager Simon Woods (inset) blames the job losses at Kimberly-Clark on the worldwide economic downturn

News of the looming redundancies was broken to the workforce yesterday at 2pm after weeks of speculation.

It is part of a move by the recession-hit US firm to cut jobs and costs at all its UK and European mills.

A Kimberly-Clark spokeswoman said: “A meeting did take place to discuss the Kimberly-Clark European consumer business. I can confirm that between 25 to 30 white collar jobs are likely to be lost. At Barrow we have a total of 426 employees of which 121 are white collar.”

The losses are the first significant job cuts of core workers at the mill for many years.

Millions of pounds have been pumped into upgrading and expanding the Barrow plant in the last decade.

Blue collar production jobs at the plant, which provides some of the highest paid jobs in Barrow, are not affected by the cuts.

Simon Woods, the mill manager, said: “We are in a tough business environment, with growing uncertainty due to the cost of raw materials, significant currency fluctuations and the global recession – we need to evolve our business in response. In doing so, we have examined every option and have taken the decision to reduce our cost base which will regrettably result in some job losses. I am conscious that our priority must be to help those affected employees through this difficult time.

“In the long term we will continue to invest in our brands which are some of the world’s most trusted and recognised.”

Eddie Irvine, full time Unite trade union official, said: “Our reaction is one of disappointment, but at the end of the day we are where we are in terms of the economy, and jobs are going right across Europe, it is not a case of Barrow being singled out.”

He said the union’s first aim was to pinpoint the company’s definition of “white collar”.

It is though it might include some technical and engineering support staff, and managers, as well as office workers.

Stuart Klosinski, industrial development manager at Furness Enterprise, said: “It is obviously disappointing, but we recognise the company is working under very challenging circumstances.

“Furness Enterprise has been working for quite some time with the company and will continue to so to help them adjust to these market challenges that they face.

“We will support the company in whatever way it wants to help people that might be affected to find other opportunities.”

The paper machines at the Park Road mill produce more than 100,000 tonnes of tissue a year, which is cut into products ranging from Andrex to Kleenex, and commercial grade tissue.

The company said it is restructuring its consumer business across Europe in recognition of the on-going affect of the global recession.

A Kimberly-Clark spokeswoman said: “The company is committed to making every effort to help the affected employees during this difficult time, while ensuring business continuity for its retail customers, shoppers and users of its products.”

“Barrow will continue to manufacture as normal. There is no impact on those jobs that are responsible for manufacturing at Barrow.

“The reduction will come from white collar, support roles.”

Six lorry drivers who served the Barrow mill were made redundant last week by transport and warehouse contractor TDG. The jobs losses at the mill come a month after BAE Global Combat Systems announced 86 jobs cuts at its Barrow armaments factory.

Barrow traders estimate more than 100 jobs have gone from closing or contracting local shops in recent months.

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