Nestlé is consulting on plans to move production of its Blue Riband brand to Poland, a move that could result in almost 300 UK job losses.
The confectionery giant sent notices to staff at four factories in the UK on Tuesday – located in York, Fawdon, and Halifax in England and Girvan in Scotland – announcing the plans, BuzzFeed News understands.
The company confirmed it was seeking a reduction of 298 roles, predominantly at York and Fawdon, through 2017 and 2018. It expected these would be achieved through voluntary redundancies, it said.
The proposed changes also include amended and standardised shift patterns at each factory thought the company did not provide further detail.
The company stressed that the proposals were not final at this stage and were subject to consultation of 45 days with trade unions and employee representatives.
A spokesperson denied that moving production to Poland would be Brexit-related. It said in a statement that the proposed changes would enable to simplify its operation and ensure "these sites operate more efficiently and remain competitive in a rapidly changing external environment".
"Nestlé UK appreciates that this is an uncertain time for employees and will work hard to ensure all are supported through this difficult period," the company said.
GMB, the union, represents some members on the affected sites.
Tim Roache, general secretary, said: “To shift the production of an iconic British brand like Blue Riband to Poland is completely unacceptable.
“These factories should be exporting chocolate – not people’s jobs."
He said the government should move to "reassure" workers that this was not the "tip of the Brexit iceberg".