Anxious wait for woodyard staff

Allan Brothers, Tweedmouth

Allan Brothers, Tweedmouth

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Workers at Allan Brothers woodyard in Berwick are set to learn their fate over the next few days, with up to 68 jobs at risk.

The timber window and door specialist is proposing to restructure its business, transferring production of some products to its sister plant in Poland.

A 30-day formal consultation process between management, the two main unions and employee representatives ends tomorrow (Friday).

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith said: “I am concerned about the consultation at Allan Brothers in Berwick which may lead to redundancies.

“I have met the region’s GMB representative to discuss how we can work together to try and keep some of the jobs under threat there. This week I am meeting workers from the businesses to hear their views and ideas for keeping work here in Berwick.”

The company, part of the Inwido Group, says it needs to restructure its UK business to ensure its long-term sustainability in this country.

Its main manufacturing site at Ord Road in Tweedmouth is the main focus of this potential change, which would see production of price sensitive, commodity window casement products being transferred to eastern Europe.

It says there has been a fast growing trend in the past five years for higher levels of imports from eastern Europe in this commodity product.

Danny Hughes, Inwido UK MD, said the company had ‘suffered significantly’ from this market change resulting in a loss of volumes and earnings over the last three years.

Up to 68 jobs may be affected by these changes, potentially leading to a mixture of voluntary and compulsory redundancies.

However, Mr Hughes has also stated that if the proposal is implemented it will allow the Berwick facility, with future investment, to successfully focus on high-value crafted products such as sliding sash windows, of which there is a strong and proud heritage of manufacturing in Berwick.

Allan Brothers currently employs around 150 people in Berwick.

However, there has been a 2.9% fall in the number of people unemployed in the Berwick constituency compared to last month.

Sir Alan said: “The figures for the Berwick constituency are very encouraging. The focus now must be on helping employers provide work, and the Government is helping through initiatives such as the £2,000 cut in employers’ national insurance from April which makes it cost less to employ someone.”

North East Chamber of Commerce policy and research manager, Mark Stephenson, added: “The most striking thing about today’s estimates is that North East employment continues to rise at an impressive rate – the fastest in the UK, which is excellent news.

“The increase in unemployment is of concern. Regional figures have been volatile, but even taking this into account it is concerning to see it remaining stubbornly high at 10.3%, with the next highest being Yorkshire and Humber at 8.3%.”

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