STAFF at a Birkenhead cooked meats factory under threat of closure were turned away from work this morning after production was suspended.
Workers at Tranfoods in Abbey Street are currently in a consultation period over plans by owner Tulip to shut the plant.
Directors of the firm told the News staff had been told to go home on full pay but the consultation would continue for another month.They said production had been stopped for "operational reasons".
Staff were given a letter this morning warning them that if they left the firm before the consultation period ended they would not be entitled to any redundancy pay.
The Unite union today said reps had not been told about the move and their phones were "in meltdown" with calls from concerned workers.
Peter Judge, Tulip chief operating officer said: "There have been a number of operational issues with the Abbey Street site that has meant we have had to take the very difficult decision to cease all production as from today.
“Although everyone at Tranfoods has been working very hard, the operational difficulties have proven to be far greater than first envisaged and have left us with no viable option other than to cease production.
“Our priority now will be to find ways in which to lessen the impact of today’s decision and we will be working closely with everyone at the site.”
In January Tulip, which bought the plant in November, said it had been unable to address “a number of operational and technical issues” at "loss-making" Tranfoods - putting 218 jobs under threat.
The company also owns a factory in Bromborough.