The world’s biggest bacon and chocolate factory is being closed and its workers are being offered a new job.
In November, a group of dairy farmers in Wales began a campaign to save the business which employs around 300 people and has been owned by a German company since 2000.
The group has now launched a petition to save a factory that is being transformed into a factory for pigs and other animals, and that has now attracted over 5,000 signatures.
The campaign, called Save The Pig and Save The Cheese, has been backed by the Royal Society of Dairy Farmers and has attracted support from the British Pork Association, as well as the British Dairy Industry.
Campaigners say the factory is already at the heart of a major environmental and social crisis in Wales.
“This factory is in desperate need of rescue and we want to make sure it doesn’t close without any support,” campaign organiser and activist Jane Wilson told The Independent.
“We want to ensure it has all the necessary environmental protections and that it has the right facilities and workers to ensure the survival of the animals.”
She said the factory, which is currently owned by an Austrian company, is also suffering from “an appalling record of environmental breaches”.
“The company is in breach of environmental legislation, animal welfare legislation and food safety legislation in the UK,” Ms Wilson said.
“The factory has not tested on animals or had any further safety checks and has repeatedly been found to be unsafe, despite a number of reports coming out of the factory that were extremely serious.”
Ms Wilson said that despite all of these failings, the factory’s owners, which are all based in Austria, continue to exploit workers in order to keep up with demand.
“These are not the actions of a company who cares about animals,” she said.
Ms Wilson, who also organises a farm safety group called Baskin & Bean, added that the factory was currently in “extensive” financial distress, with only £400,000 in the bank and with no prospect of a rescue.
“If they go to the bank, we will get them,” she told The Guardian.
“That’s why we’re going to get them.”
She added that she was optimistic the factory could be saved.
“It’s so important we have these kind of organisations,” she added.
“They can provide financial support for farmers, so we can buy the equipment that will allow them to do this job.”‘
We are all on the same page’The petition, which has received more than 3,000 support signatures, claims that the company has not followed all the environmental and animal welfare regulations required to operate in the industry.
“In the UK, it is illegal to kill animals in a way that causes them pain, suffering or distress,” the petition reads.
“Furthermore, the animals’ suffering and distress is not an acceptable standard in the meat industry.”
The factory is located in the town of Barnard, on the south coast of Wales.
The dairy farm has been the site of numerous industrial accidents, including a fire in 2011 which killed 10 employees and a blaze that destroyed the plant’s main plant in 2007.
In 2010, the company was fined £300,000 for the fire, which was also the site where two cows died after being hit by a moving truck.
In 2014, it was forced to pay £500,000 compensation to a farmer who claimed he was sprayed with chemicals at the plant, which also saw the closure of two other plants in 2015.
The Welsh Government has been working closely with the dairy industry to improve environmental regulations in the area.
“All of the Welsh Government’s resources are now focused on working with the Welsh Dairy Industry to make good on its commitments,” a spokesman for Welsh Government Environment Minister Peter Whittle said.
The factory will remain open until at least 2021, and the workers have been offered the job of making cheese and bacon in the factory.
“What we want is a dairy farm where people can make a living for their families, and we’re trying to find a way to help the industry survive,” Ms Kelly said.