More than 140 jobs are set to be axed at the Nestle Rowntree factory in York.

Nestle is planning to cut almost 300 jobs from its UK operations.

The confectionery giant is proposing 143 job cuts in York, 110 at Fawdon, 15 in Halifax and seven in Girvan.

The GMB and Unite unions both criticised the news, with the GMB saying Nestle should “be exporting chocolate and not jobs”.

Voluntary redundancies

‘Nestle UK appreciates that this is an uncertain time for employees…’ Photograph: Steve Parsons/ PA

Nestle said in a statement: “These proposals span four different sites: York, Fawdon, Halifax and Girvan and may result in a reduction of 298 roles, predominantly at York and Fawdon, through 2017 and 2018.

“It is expected that these would be achieved through voluntary redundancies.”

The proposed changes “include amended and standardised shift patterns at each factory.

“These proposals are being made by Nestle UK to ensure that these sites operate more efficiently and remain competitive in a rapidly changing external environment.”

A 45 day consultation on these proposals with trade unions and employee representatives will follow.

The statement concluded: “Nestle UK appreciates that this is an uncertain time for employees and will work hard to ensure all are supported through this difficult period.”

‘Devastating impact’

Labour MP for York Central Rachael Maskell said the decision was connected to Brexit.

She said the vote to leave the European Union had led to the prices of cocoa and sugar rising, prompting Nestle’s decision.

Ms Maskell said: “Workers and their families have the right to be angry that Nestlé is cutting jobs in York.

“Rowntree’s was a family firm who invested in jobs, homes and benefits to workers and their families, Nestle has lost the significance of the company by telling 143 workers that they are no longer needed at their factory.”

She has written to the Prime Minister and business secretary “to highlight the devastating impact that these job losses will have on workers and their families, on the business, on York’s economy and on the wider community.”

Cllr Keith Aspden

Deputy leader of City of York Council, Lib Dem Cllr Keith Aspden, made the same Brexit connection.

“I will ask the council to ensure that it receives assurances from Nestle that support will be in place to give workers and families the support they need – particularly as the 45-day consultation starts,” he said.

“News such as this will only add to the growing uncertainty as a result of the government’s decision to rip the UK out of the single market.”

‘Worst kind of Brexit’

Unite national officer Julia Long said: “We will be campaigning to save as many jobs as possible and pressing Nestle to think again about these plans.

“Rather than turning its back on its UK workforce, Nestle should be investing in its UK operations and keeping production here at plants in the UK.

“Over the coming days we will be scrutinising the company’s business rationale for these job losses and explore alternatives to its cut-and-run approach.”

Valerie Scott, a GMB northern region officer, said: “Pillaging our jobs and shipping them overseas looks like the worst kind of Brexit imaginable.

“Under this Government it’s more the Northern Poorhouse than Northern Powerhouse.”

Completely unacceptable

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “Nestle are throwing people’s lives, and those of their families, into turmoil for the sake of increasing profit margins.

“These factories should be exporting chocolate – not people’s jobs.”

The plans include the outsourcing of Blue Riband production from Fawdon to Poland, prompting Mr Roache to say: “The government needs to step in before it’s too late and reassure millions of workers across the country this is not just the tip of the Brexit iceberg.”