Chocolatier Barry Callebaut to cut more than 500 jobs in Belgium

Chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut plans to cut more than 500 jobs at its Belgian sites in Wieze, Lokeren and Halle, Hilde Verhelst of the ACV Food and Services union said on Monday. The company insists that all three factories will remain operational.

According to Verhelst, the company has announced plans to cut 900 jobs in Europe, more than half of them in Belgium. The Renault procedure - part of the Belgian labour law on collective redundancies - has been initiated.

At its East Flanders sites in Wieze, home to the world's largest chocolate factory, and Lokeren, the company plans to cut 250 office jobs and about 60 manual jobs, Verhelst said. In Halle, in Flemish Brabant, 160 manufacturing and 50 office jobs are under threat.

The company responded in a written statement, confirming its plan to cut costs by 15 per cent, "which could affect 2,500 positions worldwide over the next 18 months". It did not give exact figures for Belgium. However, the sites in Halle and Wieze "remain very important factories" and the intention is to continue making Belgian chocolate there, the statement said.

The unions still hope to reduce the number of job losses. "We don't think this is right. The right measures have not been taken in the last 30 years," said Verhelst.



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