Kimberly-Clark closure: £30m Government funding will help ease redundancy pain at Barton plant
THIRTY million pounds of Government funding will help the South Bank pick itself up from the 500 job losses that will come when Kimberly-Clark shuts its plant.
That is the pledge from council bosses after the American nappy manufacturer said it was dropping production of its Huggies range – leading to the 20-year-old Barton plant closing in March.
The news was broken to staff yesterday and one told the Telegraph: "I have given the last 20 years of my life there. Everyone is in shock. Up until now, they have never told us anything, and this news has come as a complete shock."
Plant manager Graham Tongue said: "As a plant, we are not a profit centre.
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"My focus and my team's focus is very much with the employees here. It is very shocking, unsettling news for them and our focus is about supporting them and their families now, and in the coming months as well.
"As with anything as shocking and unsettling as this, people react in different ways. We made sure everyone was called in to site so we could do this face to face, and it was appreciated by the team."
The news came just days after the Humber area won £30 million of funding – £10 million to come directly to the North East Lincolnshire area for renewables and food sector growth and development.
Councillor Peter Wheatley, portfolio holder for environment and regeneration at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: "We will be working closely with the Local Enterprise Partnership and our partners at Jobcentre Plus to offer help and support.
"Recent success in securing £30 million of Regional Growth Fund money to support priority sectors across the Humber enables us to better help people realise their employment and business ambitions."
Making the announcement, Kimberly-Clark revealed how the £200 million site in Falkland Way has never managed to build a stable, profitable business.
The company said there was a backdrop of declining sales and it had suffered from an unfavourable currency exchange rate. It added it was "making strategic changes in Europe in order to deliver better returns. Only Italy will now sell its nappies in Europe.
Staff – 378 permanent and 120 indirectly employed – were sent home after the announcement, but were due back in today.
One said: "We were called in for a meeting on site and there were about 450 of us there. They told us they are pulling out of Europe because it is not profitable.
"I have worked there for 20 years and the majority of employees have been there for a long time, too. It has always been their job.
"The only good news is that the company will offer a reasonable redundancy package. People were worried they would walk away with nothing, but this is at least the positive out of the situation."
Another 60 jobs are to go in North Wales, with three other plants in continental Europe also affected.
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