Taskforce to meet staff facing redundancy at Kimberly-Clark plant in Barton
A taskforce established in the wake of the planned closure of the Kimberly-Clark plant in Barton will meet with affected employees today (Thursday, November 1).
Bosses at the firm have announced their intention to close the nappy-making factory next year, with the loss of around 480 jobs.
The move will deal a blow to Barton's economy, although it comes as business leaders continue to emphasise the positive aspects of the town.
Speaking at Prime Minister's Question Time in response to a question from local MP Martin Vickers on the job losses, David Cameron said the taskforce would do everything it could to help the workers.
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"The Government will give it our support and support our employees to find alternative employment," he said.
The taskforce, which includes North Lincolnshire Council officers, JobCentre Plus and other organisations, was set up after the announcement.
Councillor Liz Redfern, chairwoman of the taskforce, said: "We had a meeting on Friday, October 26 with management and they really want to work with us.
"We have arranged a local task group to go in to have an initial meeting with staff.
"What they mainly do is look at the workforce and put them into categories, as to what help we can tailor to their needs."
Ted Plaziuk, chairman of the Barton Chamber of Trade, said it would be difficult to gauge the economic impact of the planned closure on the town.
He said: "It is going to have an effect, psychologically as much as materially, and it certainly depresses people, that's for sure.
"What effect it is going to have on the economy, it is difficult to tell. Shops will lose some passing trade as there are going to be some people popping into town for various things."
But Mr Plaziuk said the town had benefited in other ways this year, such as with the reduction in Humber Bridge tolls.
And businesses such as fashion stores Coco and Papillon, Age UK and Crazy Card Crafts have all recently opened in the town.
The latest available figures show there were a total of 65 live unfilled vacancies at the Barton JobCentre Plus office in September.
Barton mayor Paul Vickers said: "The Kimberly-Clark news was a bombshell.
"But hopefully people will take confidence from the lower bridge tolls, come and have a look and realise there are now a lot more shops open for business."
Graham Tongue, mill manager at Kimberly-Clark, said: "I am proud of the professionalism with which the workforce reacted to the difficult news we delivered last week.
"The decision made to stop making Huggies nappies was in no way a reflection of mill or employee performance, which has always been excellent.
"We understand how distressing this is for all concerned and have now started the consultation process with all employees and their representatives."