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MORE than 200 workers from the Unilever Caribbean Ltd (UCL) will lose their jobs in the coming days.

The Champs Fleurs-based manufacturing and distribution company, with brands such as Lipton and Dove, issued a statement yesterday confirming that it would initiate a “retrenchment exercise as a result of a restructuring of its operations in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The decision was taken by the board of directors of UCL after exhaustive analyses of the current operations to ensuring the economic viability of the organisation,” the statement said.

“UCL recognises that this process has been difficult for its employees, their families, and entire communities in Trinidad and Tobago. The company extends its appreciation for the outstanding service and contribution over the past years made, and reaffirms its commitment to supporting its employees during this difficult time,” it said.

UCL said the decision came despite and after a number of improvement initiatives were undertaken in all areas of the operation over the past two years.

“In the prevailing domestic and global competitive environment the measures have not yielded the results required to keep the company viable,” it said.

In August, it was reported that Unilever was looking to cut jobs amid financial difficulty.

At the time, the company had said the factors which had contributed to this were a “weak domestic economy and challenging global environment.”

In yesterday’s release, the company noted that in the six months since the news became public, “UCL has operated strictly in accordance with its legal requirements when contemplating such actions and as a consequence had engaged in consultation with the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), the recognised majority union for workers employed by the company. These extensive discussions were conducted with the objective of reaching a mutually agreeable outcome in the interest of all concerned.”

The OWTU represents 285 employees at UCL.

The company said it will continue to prioritise the safety of all personnel and will actively pursue the well-being of the people and the operations of the company. UCL will abide by and operate in accordance with all legal obligations in all matters relating to this decision.”

The company said it plans to sharpen the focus of its core business to ensure long-term sustainability of its operations in Trinidad and Tobago and the region.

Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus confirmed that she received a letter from the company’s managing director John Da Silva, outlining a retrenchment exercise as a result of a restructuring of its operations in T&T.”

“I continue to be concerned about all workers who are retrenched and the negative impact on their families. However, the decision was that of Unilever Caribbean Ltd which is indeed regrettable particularly at this point in time. I have taken note that Unilever is in consultation with the recognised majority union, the OWTU. I trust that the settlement arrived at would be fair to the workers,” she said.

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