UK Poultry workers call for compensation

NORWICH - Unions and MPs today called on the Government and the European Union to provide compensation to workers at Bernard Matthews after it was announced that at least 130 staff are set to be laid off.
calendar icon 20 February 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

The affected staff at the factory in Great Witchingham, near Norwich, will today stop working for at least 20 days. The company has also not ruled out laying off a further 500 workers.

The move came as public confidence in the Bernard Matthews brand plunged following an outbreak of bird flu at its Holton farm, near Halesworth, leading to a 40pc slump in poultry sales.

The Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) wants the Government and the EU to compensate workers. There have also been calls for poultry farmers to be compensated.

European poultry farmers were offered up to £45m last year in one-off compensation by the European Union.

Chris Kaufman, national officer of the TGWU, said: “There is European precedent for direct government support for workers whose jobs have been affected by outbreaks, and the UK Government should act in the same way as the Spanish and Italian governments did.”

Norfolk's Euro MP Richard Howitt said: “The European Union paid compensation directly to workers in Spain and Italy related to loss of income with bird flu there. These meat processing workers must get the same deal.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “If poultry farmers have received compensation under a European scheme last year there is a strong case for poultry workers to be treated in the same way.”

But other Norfolk MPs were more cautious. South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said: “There is a precedent in Europe and here for giving compensation to farms where there have been outbreaks - that happened with foot-and-mouth.

Source: Norwich Evening News 24

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