Flanders suspends subsidies to chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut over layoffs

Flanders is suspending subsidies to chocolate maker Barry Callebaut, Work minister Jo Brouns announced in parliament on Wednesday. Flanders subsidises innovation and training aid, but these subsidies will now be suspended.

The suspension comes after Barry Callebaut announced this week that it would cut jobs at its sites in Wieze, Lokeren and Halle. The Swiss-Belgian company could cut more than 500 jobs in Belgium, out of a total of 2,500 worldwide.

"It is cynical that a company that is making a profit wants to cut jobs," Brouns said on Wednesday. "I am now pressing the pause button [on innovation and training subsidies]. If companies restructure, it is also possible to reclaim funds. If necessary, we will do so."

Unions 'shocked, perplexed and outraged'

It is not yet known how many people will lose their jobs at Barry Callebaut. The manufacturer isn't leaving Belgium , it said, describing the Halle and Wieze sites as "very important factories".

"We are shocked, perplexed and outraged by the announced restructuring at Barry Callebaut," said European trade unions on Tuesday . They hope to mitigate the number of job cuts through consultations with management in the coming days. For now, the unions are not calling for strikes.


#FlandersNewsService | The Barry Callebaut production site in Wieze, East Flanders © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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