A FOOD processing company has been branded "mean spirited" by union representatives over a £50 redundancy offer.

Yorkshire Fresh Fruits, at Selby, is to close at the end of June after its only customer ASDA awarded its contract elsewhere.

Now the 445 workers at the plant, which washes and chops fruit, face redundancy, but union members have hit out at what they see as unfair and unjust policies.

The union Unite represents 50 of the staff and regional officer Sarah Mitchell said that while salaried staff, who mainly work in management and administrative jobs, have been offered an enhanced redundancy package based on their length of service, hourly paid staff in production roles have been offered just £50 on top of their statutory redundancy pay.

Ms Mitchell said that with some hourly paid staff racking up years of service, the discrepancy is seeing some of the production staff offered as much as £3,000-£3,500 less than their salaried counterparts with the same length of service.

She said: “What we are seeing here is a mean-spirited ‘them and us’ approach when it comes redundancy packages."

She added: “We think this two-tier approach is disgraceful and by making this public, we hope to shame Yorkshire Fresh Fruits into being more generous and bring up the pay-outs to that of the salaried staff. Its parent company, the Bakkavor Group is very profitable and can well afford to be much more generous.

“An industrial action ballot is on the cards, if there is not a substantial improvement on the paltry £50 offer.

A spokesman for Bakkavor said they could not comment on the specific redundancy packages offered to staff in Selby.

In a written statement, the company said it had gone through a 45 day consultation period with staff, and said: "Yorkshire Fresh Fruit continues to make significant efforts to assist staff in finding alternative employment in the local area and relocate staff wherever possible elsewhere within the Bakkavor Group.

"However, regrettably, we anticipate that up to 419 staff will be made redundant, subject to any further potential interest in roles available within the Group.

"YFF would like to thank all staff for their commitment and professionalism during this difficult time."

Ms Mitchell said: “The closure is a bitter blow for the workers, their families and the local economy. The management is looking for a buyer for the company and we have managed to save about 40 jobs, so far.

“Unite is working with the careers service and all interested parties to find our members, who make up the majority of the workforce, alternative employment.”