TRANFOODS workers staged a peaceful protest calling for answers from the bosses who locked them out of their factory.
More than 100 staff gathered outside the cooked meats plant in Abbey Street, Birkenhead, on Tuesday morning – eight days after they were turned away from work and told production had ceased.
The protest was organised to coincide with a planned meeting at Tranfoods between union officials and representatives of factory owner Tulip.
But Franny Joyce, regional industrial organiser for Unite, branded the company “cowards” after the meeting was rearranged at the last minute.
Five police officers observed the protest and security staff were brought in to guard the gates of the factory.
Workers called the security measures “a total overreaction”.
Mr Joyce said: “They rang me late last night to tell me the meeting was still going ahead but they were changing the venue.
“They said that if I contacted them this morning they would disclose that venue.
“They are cowards. This is a legitimate, peaceful protest by people who just want answers.
“They have had no information at all since they were locked out of work last Monday.”
Tulip said last week it had identified “significant operational issues” which left it with no alternative but to cease production at Tranfoods with immediate effect.
The factory’s 218 workers were already in a consultation period over plans by Tulip to shut the plant after a decline in orders.
Unions accused Tulip of trying to renege on a redundancy deal – a claim denied by the company.
One man, who asked not to be named, said: “I have worked here for 18 years and last week two security guards followed me in when I went to collect my letter.
“It was bad enough being told you have lost your job but that was just intimidating.
“We have not heard anything from the company apart from getting our wage slips on Friday.
“They are trying to save money but they paid for stamps and sent them through the post.”
Another, who also asked to remain anonymous, said: “Sending all these police here is a total overreaction. We just want to know what is going on.”
Tranfoods has provided products to leading supermarkets, including Tesco, for over 30 years.
Tulip, which bought the plant in November, announced the closure plans in January.
The company did not respond to requests for a comment before the News went to press.
But last week Peter Judge, chief operating officer said: “Operational difficulties have proven to be far greater than first envisaged and have left us with no viable option other than to cease production.”