24 September 2010 – The Green Party’s Euro-MP for Hampshire and South-East England today called on the European Commission to give assurances that EU money was not being used to help Twinings shift some of its workforce from Andover to Poland – a move which would result in 129 job losses (1).
Keith Taylor MEP, a member of the Euro-Parliament’s International Trade Committee, has tabled a Written Question chasing up the request made by his predecessor, Caroline Lucas, in April 2010 (2) for confirmation as to whether Twinings were, or will be, in receipt of EU funding for the building of a new factory in Poland and the creation of new jobs there.
The Green Euro-MP said: “I share my predecessor’s concerns that EU grants made to Poland may be used to encourage businesses such as Twinings – and its parent company, Associated British Foods – to relocate from other Member states, with a subsequent loss of jobs in the UK and elsewhere.
“If the scaling back of operations at the Andover facility goes ahead, it will be a devastating blow for local workers and their families. I am concerned that the EU is making it easy for multinationals like ABF to outsource their production to cheaper workforces – especially to countries where workers may lack union rights – just to boost profits.
“In May, the Commission told us it had been informed by the Polish authorities that a subsidiary of Twinings had indeed applied for funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounting to around 10 million Euros. (3)
“Under the conditions of this funding, the Polish authorities should have requested an assurance from Twinings that the money would not be used to support the relocation of production or service facilities from another Member state. The Commission must now clarify where the process is at – and if a guarantee was not obtained, I would like to know why.”
Keith concluded: “It would be a tragic irony if UK taxpayers were indirectly financing their own job losses via EU schemes promoting new business and job creation schemes abroad.”
Notes to Editors
(1) On 2 November 2009, Twinings announced the planned closure of its North Shields plant with the loss of 263 jobs and cuts at its Andover facility with 129 proposed job losses. Despite the company remaining hugely profitable, making in excess of £60 million, they have decided to move the majority of production to Poland and China: a move that will likely enable Twinings and its parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) to exploit cheap labour abroad at the expense of its workforce in the UK.
(3) The application was made under the operational programme, ‘Innovative Economy’, under the heading of ‘support for investments in the production sector’ for an investment in Swarzędz, in the Wielkopolska Voivodship – with co-financing from public funds (ERDF and state budget).