'Little hope' of Kimberly-Clark keeping Barton-upon-Humber nappies factory open
THE loss of jobs at an international firm has been described as 'very worrying' by Hull City Council's leader.
Councillor Stephen Brady admits there is little hope of changing the minds of bosses at Kimberly-Clark, who announced proposals to close its factory in Barton.
The move could see 500 workers, many of them from Hull and the East Riding, losing their jobs
The factory was set up 20 years ago with a public subsidy of £12m – a grant that would be worth £20m in today's prices.
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It's the third major blow to East Yorkshire in days. Seven Seas has announced plans to close its Hull site, and almost half of the workforce based at McCain are in danger of losing their jobs.
Cllr Brady said: "It seems we are getting a weekly dose of bad luck.
"I hope the Government now wakes up to the crisis in the North, particularly in Yorkshire and the Humber.
"It's very, very worrying. What really troubles me is that, despite the economy moving out of recession, this is having no effect in the North.
"The only way to get the economy going is to get people back in work and paying taxes.
"The level of unemployment, especially among the young, is too high."
Hull City Council is working to persuade the American hygiene giant to change its mind but Cllr Brady isn't holding out hope. He said: "We are continuing our efforts with the company but it doesn't look like there is much hope in the case of Kimberly-Clark.
"The MPs in the region have made it clear that, while they understand the problems the company is experiencing, the company has been here a long time and this announcement was a shock."
The latest news makes the plans to attract Siemens to Hull even more crucial.
Cllr Brady said: "It's even more essential we get a decision on Siemens and for the Government to sort out its future energy policy.
"While we don't want to put all our eggs into one basket, Siemens would encourage other businesses to come here.
"It will increase the supply industry but we'll have to wait until the new year for the decision."
East Riding Council leader Stephen Parnaby admits he was shocked by the decision.
He said: "We had no warning about this and it came out of the blue.
"We are working with our colleagues in North East Lincolnshire to see if there is anything we can do.
"Realistically, getting a company like this to change its mind is very rare. But we will do all we can.
"I haven't heard of any other companies in trouble in the region but things are tough out there.
"It is vital we get Siemens here now but the jobs that will be created have virtually been negated with the latest possible closures."
Kimberly-Clark's announcement brings the total number of potential job losses across the region to almost 800 in less than two weeks.
This is despite the news yesterday that the country's GDP had risen by one per cent, marking the end of the double-dip recession.
Hull North MP Diana Johnson said: "Government statements about the end of the recession will ring hollow to those in the dole queues and food banks of Hull.
"Hull is still mired deep in the recession."
The firm has made the decision to drop the Huggies nappy range in Britain and the plant is likely to be closed by March.
Shocked staff were given the unexpected announcement on Wednesday.
There are 378 people directly employed, with a further 120 involved in contracted logistics operations exclusive to the Barton factory.
The official line from the company said it was "making strategic changes in Europe to focus its resources and investments on the company's strongest products and markets in order to deliver better returns in the future."
With no official union representation, the 90 days official consultation hasn't started.
There needs to be more elected members on the factory's plant council, so the consultation period is likely to start in the first week of November.
In the meantime, the company has set up an employment assistance programme.