The milk cooperative Milcobel announced in a works council on Friday its intention to close the drinks department in Schoten, Antwerp. The company has announced this. Milcobel wants to stop its own production of milk and milk beverages. As a result, 167 jobs are at risk: 162 in Schoten and 5 in the support services in Bruges.
Milcobel produces all kinds of milk beverages in pods, such as: B. normal milk and chocolate milk. This is done under well-known brands such as Inza, Choco! Choco! or Yogho! Yogho!
But the country’s largest dairy cooperative wants to stop that. “Less and less milk is being consumed. Over the past ten years the market has declined by 3 percent annually. The margins for milk are also very low or even negative, ”explains spokeswoman Kathleen De Smedt. In addition, the Schoten plant is very outdated, which would require significant investment.
For this reason, the company intends to close the Schoten site. That would mean that Milcobel no longer produces its own milk drink. Inza has been producing milk since 1946, first in Borgerhout, later in pods.
The socialist union ABVV is disappointed. “The news hits like a bomb because we’ve been working on extensive flexibility for months to optimize the website,” says ABVV.
According to the union, local management in Schoten asked a week ago to validate an agreement on additional schedules for the coming months, so there was no shutdown at that time. “Employees react with dismay and ask why this should be done,” the union said. “We will have many questions about this decision during the consultation phase.”
On Thursday around eighty dissatisfied dairy farmers were still feeding their tractor in front of the Milcobel location in Langemark. They issued an ultimatum to the cooperative’s new CEO, who collects, processes and markets milk from 2,600 dairy farms: If the milk price does not improve by the end of the year, farmers will return with eight hundred demonstrators.
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ABVV asks, among other things, whether the decision has anything to do with it. “Even though they are shareholders and therefore received an additional payment, they have called for urgent action,” it sounds. “It is noticeable that the closure of Milcobel Schoten was announced so suddenly. The new CEO and board of directors are under constant pressure from shareholders, who are 2,500 farmers here, to make faster and more profit. This could have hastened this decision. “
The union says it has no illusions that the decision will be reversed. “Just like in a multinational company, the shareholder votes for their money and forces the closure,” he says. “Buy locally and support the farmer” now has a double and bitter aftertaste for us. “