Sussex mushroom farm issues redundancy letters to staff

Four hundred workers at a mushroom farm in West Sussex have been told they may lose their jobs.

Staff at Thakeham Mushrooms, near Storrington, have been issued with redundancy letters.

A spokesman said the "at risk" letters were issued as the first part of a legal consultation process.

The company, which was taken over by Irish firm Monaghan Mushrooms a month ago, said it was "optimistic" it could save 90% of the jobs.

'Business in danger'

Charles Harrity, from the GMB union, said: "In little over four weeks since the Office of Fair Trading sanctioned the take over by parent company Monaghan Mushrooms, the new owners have completely changed their position.

"Far from growing the company and securing 400 jobs, it now seems that the whole business is in danger.

"I have already written to the company challenging their at risk notice."

A spokesman for Monaghan Mushrooms said the farm, which used to be called Sussex Mushrooms, was rescued from administration in 2011.

"It had been suffering from a lack of investment over many years, incurring significant operating losses," he said.

"Last summer the employees had not been paid wages for eight weeks and the future of all 400 jobs were in doubt.

"We paid all outstanding wages and are currently engaged in a restructuring exercise to try to reduce operating losses.

"The first phase of these consultations involves discussions on voluntary redundancy and we are optimistic that the majority of the reduction in numbers will be achieved by agreement, and that we can protect 90% of jobs on site."

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