I am very sad to learn that following the 45 day consultation period Solway Foods has decided its site in Corby is no longer financially viable and is to close. I know that this will be a blow to the workers and to their families.
The company has told me that this closure will be in two phases. The first phase of releasing over 500 people is taking place between now and 5th April and comprises both voluntary and compulsory redundancies. Phase 2 and the closure of the site is expected to be complete by late summer. Solway Foods has also stated that some people may be redeployed elsewhere in the 2 Sisters Food Group.
I have been working with representatives from Corby Borough Council, Northamptonshire County Council, the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, the Department of Work & Pensions, the Department of Business Innovation & Skills and the Skills Funding Agency as part of a Taskforce that was set up as soon as I heard that the company had started these consultations. Our original aim was to provide the company with various types of support that would keep this business in the town and save the threatened jobs. Various offers were made to support the company, including an offer to help with relocating to a new site in Corby and I am disappointed that Solway were not prepared to look at this option.
Solway Foods have announced that a 45 day statutory consultation period on the future of their operations at Corby has begun, putting 900 jobs at risk of redundancy.
I have spoken with representatives of Solway Foods today. My thoughts are with the 900 strong workforce who will now all be very worried about the future of their jobs. This news comes as a shock. Solway operate in a very competitive market, they have recently lost some customers and they tell me the Corby site is ageing. Solway have told me that they will consider all possibilities, including options for staying in Corby, and I have offered to help in anyway I can.
I have arranged urgent talks with Solway’s Chief Executive, Veepul Patel at 10.00 on Monday morning (10th February).
Taking action on recruitment agencies is one of my 6 pledges.
Information I obtained today in answer to a Parliamentary Question shows that penalties have been levied on two Corby agencies for failing to pay wages properly to local workers as part of my ongoing local campaign.
I have been working closely with the Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate and Her Majesties Revenue and Customs to take action where local agencies are abusing employees. Investigations have been taking place in twelve local agencies, two are now completed and ten are ongoing.
In the two agencies where the investigations have concluded, they have received automatic penalty charges totalling £1532 and workers have been repaid wages totalling £3154. These cases Read the rest of this entry »
I was pleased to welcome the participants of “Experience Corby” to parliament on 28th November.
“Experience Corby” is a project that I have run in partnership with Tresham College that aims to match young people who are out of work with employers who are willing to offer short term work experience placements.
The programme has been a great success, with some young people being offered full time employment and apprenticeships and others who have been able to use their experience and references from the project to secure work elsewhere.
Corby probably has the highest concentration of employment agencies in the country. Some act properly and treat people fairly and the work they do helps supports local businesses by providing them with a flexible workforce that enables them to respond to changes in demand and conditions in their markets.
However, there are employment agencies operating in Corby who are exploiting workers and adding significantly to a climate of job insecurity and a ‘race to the bottom’ with regard to pay and conditions. In May of this year, I convinced HMRC and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to carry out a three-day operation, visiting 34 local employment agencies. They uncovered £100,000 owed to 3,000 employees in the area.
In response to this I have two tabled two Private Members Bills in Parliament. One that seeks to end the exploitation of zero hours contracts, the other that seeks to extend the powers of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to enable it to regulate employment agencies in all sectors of the economy.
As well as this action in Parliament, I have been working hard locally in partnership with the Labour Leader of Corby Borough Council, Tom Beattie, to set up the Corby Employment Agencies Forum. The aim has been to establish common, high standards of practice within the employment businesses’ sector in the town.
Today we are launching our Code of Practice (which can be downloaded here) with pledges from a number of agencies and employers to sign-up and abide by its terms. We have developed this through engaging employment agencies, trade associations, client companies, temporary workers themselves and trades unions in the work of the Forum.
We intend the Code to be a kind of ‘kitemark’ for those companies engaged in the employment of temporary workers within the town – a guarantee that they will operate in a legal, fair and socially responsible manner in these transactions. Borrowing from some of the content of the Gangmaster Licensing Authority Standards, it sets out three sets of responsibilities for those involved in temporary working:
- Employment Agencies/Businesses
- Their Client Companies
- Temporary Workers
Gaining the buy-in of employers is crucial, given their power to influence the behaviour of the agencies with which they contract. The Code offers them the demonstration of a commitment on the part of these labour suppliers to operate in a lawful and ethical manner, providing a component for a company’s quality strategy and its corporate responsibility charter. In return, employers commit to:
- Avoiding the replacement of permanent jobs with temporary employment through effective workforce planning
- Carry out regular reviews with their agencies to establish that the management of temporary workers on site is carried out effectively and professionally
- Contract only with agencies that sign-up to the Code
The Forum and the Code do not replace the need for a proper regulatory framework for employment businesses. However, the current government have weakened this – through the recently-announced winding up of the Employment Agency Standards Agency – rather than taking action to tackle abuses in the sector. In these circumstances, I am determined to do what I can to make Corby and East Northamptonshire a great place to work where laws designed to protect working people are upheld, everyone is treated fairly and with respect when they are at work and there are routes from temporary to permanent employment.
With the Forum promoting and up-holding this Code, I believe that we will make a real difference in creating an ethos of fairness and establishing an appropriate balance of power in the local job market.
One of my 6 pledges is to help young people find good jobs and support local business. This is why I am delighted to have set an exciting new project with Tresham College called Experience Corby.
Experience Corby is a scheme aimed at young people who have struggled to get a foothold in the jobs market. It seeks to provide young people with a first step on the road to a fulfilling career through gaining work experience with a valued employer in the town.
Would your company consider giving a local young a work experience placement? Read the rest of this entry »
One of my 6 pledges is to support local business and work hard to support new jobs across Corby and East Northamptonshire.
On Monday 9th July I was pleased to welcome the Energy and Climate Change Minister to Corby to show him around the TATA Steel site in Corby. We were also joined by Community union general secretary Michael Leahy and TATA’s European operation director Remco Blaauw.
I invited the Minister during a recent debate in Parliament. I wanted him to visit the Corby site to see for himself how important energy intensive industries like steel manufacturing are to both our local and national economy.
TATA Steel employ 650 people in Corby and East Northamptonshire and in total hundreds of thousands of people in the UK work in energy intensive industries. Read the rest of this entry »