Some 140 jobs at Next’s Doncaster warehouse are at risk as the company gets set to open an automated factory.
Staff say they are fearful of losing their jobs as the firm confirmed its new sofa factory and warehouse with a ‘fully automated storage and retrieval system’ may result in ‘some redundancies.’
Next’s new warehouse and factory will open in September on the same site as the company’s existing warehouse in West Moor Lane, Armthorpe.
A spokesman said the company was looking to eliminate approximately 140 jobs at their existing warehouse due to changes in their operation brought about by the automated system.
He added the company has around 800 vacancies that workers facing redundancy will be able to apply for as part of the consultation process.
However, he confirmed there will be ‘no guarantees’ of continued employment in new roles.
A Next employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Star they were fearful that the company would opt for more of the work to be carried out by the automated assembly line, leading to some of the vacancies currently being advertised being scrapped.
They said: “They’re saying the new warehouse will create more jobs, when in fact it won’t as it will all be automated and take work from the new warehouse.
“They are still holding interviews knowing that these people will not be given a job.”
The Next spokesman said he was unable to confirm whether workers losing their jobs would be able to apply for ‘like-for-like’ roles, and that this would be discussed with employees during the consultation process.
He added that 74 of the 140 positions set to be axed are currently filled by ‘temporary employees.’
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers national officer Irene Radigan said: “Usdaw has been in constant discussions with Next Distribution Limited as it looks to modernise and extend its warehouse operations in Doncaster.
“Usdaw’s on-site reps will continue to meet with Usdaw members and management over the coming weeks and throughout the consultation period, to discuss the implications of the current proposals.
“Both Usdaw and NDL are determined to provide jobs for everyone who wants to remain working at NDL.
“Any Usdaw member who is concerned should speak to their on-site rep.
“Some job roles will change but all staff will be advised what their options are throughout the consultation period. I want to reassure members that Usdaw is doing everything possible to maintain as many jobs as possible within NDL.”
The development of the sofa factory and warehouse was announced in January after planning permission was granted. Next confirmed it was expecting to employ 50 people in the sofa manufacturing team with more staff set to be hired as ‘production volumes increase’.
Around 500 people are currently employed at the Next warehouse on the same site.