Union fury over ‘ruthless’ Scottish & Newcastle decision to axe jobs and close Reading brewery

Trade union Unite has hit out at Scottish & Newcastle’s “ruthless” decision to close its Reading brewery

The troubled drinks company announced plans earlier this week to close the site with the loss of up to 362 jobs.

Unite insisted the prospect of a £7.8bn takeover bid from Carlsberg and Heineken was behind the closure plans.

“We are shocked at the ruthless decision to close the biggest brewery in the UK. Scottish & Newcastle take this decision at a time when it is recommending an offer of 800 pence per share made by the Carlsberg/Heineken consortium. We believe the decision is based on pure shareholder greed and cannot be justified any other way,” said a spokesman.

The brewer has opened consultations with employees at the Reading site, and pledged to make “every effort” to find them other work.

Group operations director Stephen Glancey said: “It is well documented that there is general over-capacity in the UK brewing sector, and these proposals have been put in place to address this issue.

“The nature of the Reading site, the amount of investment required to make it competitive and its relative cost compared to other UK facilities means that there is a strong business case for closure.”

The Reading site is not due for closure until 2010.

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