220 jobs at risk as Tata considers closing its Winnington soda ash factory (From Northwich Guardian)
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220 jobs at risk as Tata considers closing its Winnington soda ash factory
AROUND 220 jobs are at risk following the proposed closure of Tata Chemicals Europe’s soda ash factory in Winnington.
The proposed restructure, announced yesterday, Tuesday, would see Tata close its soda ash and calcium chloride factory in Winnington, retain and expand the sodium bicarbonate factory in Winnington and retain its soda ash and sodium bicarbonate factories in Lostock.
The action is in response to the serious threat posed by high and rising energy prices and would result in around 220 redundancies across Winnington and Lostock operations and from support services.
A 45-day period of statutory consultation with unions and employees has begun, with TCE giving workers and unions the opportunity to give comments and suggestions on alternative proposals.
Staff across the Winnington and Lostock plants were told about the decision yesterday, Tuesday.
Tata’s sister company, Middlewich-based British Salt is unaffected by the proposal.
“It is hugely regrettable that we’ve had to announce proposed redundancies today, but it is necessary to secure a sustainable future for our business,” said managing director Martin Ashcroft.
“In the face of high and rising gas prices, we have to reconfigure our business to focus on higher-value products and reduce our energy bill in order to continue manufacturing in Northwich. We believe that this proposal will help Tata to achieve that.”
Stephen Bray, community engagement manager told the Guardian that employees would be offered the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy and early retirement.
He said: “We hope to achieve as many of those as possible. That would be an ideal situation.”
Closure of Winnington’s soda ash plant would enable Tata to reconfigure the combined heat and power plant supplying power and steam to both Winnington and Lostock in order to make it more sustainable and reduce its massive energy costs.
Mr Bray added: “The big problem is that we had an agreement for our energy which was due to change in 2015. If we didn’t do anything about it would have meant the total closure of the soda ash and sodium bicarbonate business.”
Tata and E.ON’s energy from waste plant, planned for off Griffiths Road, would have helped Tata’s position but delays following the approval of the scheme mean it will not be able to help the company until at least 2019.
Despite this, Mr Bray said the company remains committed to the project providing they can find a sustainable waste contract that will further reduce their energy costs.
Soda ash has been produced at the Winnington plant since 1874.
What do you think about the proposed restructure? Are you an employee at risk? Call 01606 813 621.