Tesco staff are facing an uncertain future after the supermarket giant revealed plans to shake-up its in-house bakeries.
The review means a total of 1,816 roles are now at risk of redundancy across the country.
It has previously been reported that the retail giant is to start using frozen, rather than fresh, dough in around 700 of its UK stores.
Now union leaders have condemned Tesco’s plan. It follows the closure of a number of deli counters across its stores.
Usdaw national officer Pauline Foulkes said: “This is devastating and upsetting news for our members who work in the bakery operations.
“Usdaw will be entering into collective consultation with Tesco to consider the business case for these planned changes over the coming weeks.
“Many of those affected by the proposed changes are skilled workers. While we will do everything possible to maintain jobs or support impacted staff to redeploy into alternative roles, the reality is the opportunities to find suitable alternative skilled roles may be limited for these workers.
“Usdaw representatives will be available to support and advise affected members during this difficult time and throughout the consultation period.”
Shoppers do not want to see any cutbacks to the in-store bakery at the Hanley branch.
Jessica Barnes, aged 35, from Milton, said: “This is going to reduce the quality of the food on the bakery in the name of cost-cutting. It will bother me because the food won’t be as nice.”
Shelly Cooke, aged 47, from Tunstall, said: They’re cutting costs in the bakery – but I’m sure the prices will remain the same. It’s not fair to reduce the quality but not reflect that in the prices.”
Tesco has today defended its announcement. The changes are set to be introduced from May.
It is understood that no bakery counters will close – but the amount of baking done in stores will be reduced.
UK and Ireland chief executive Jason Tarry said: “We need to adapt to changing customer demand and tastes for bakery products so that we continue to offer customers a market-leading bakery range in store.
“We know this will be very difficult for colleagues who are impacted, and our priority is to support them through this process. We hope that many will choose to stay with us in alternative roles.”
A spokesman added: “Customers are buying fewer traditional loaves of bread and increasingly looking for a wider range of options, with sales of wraps, bagels and flatbreads growing.
“In light of this, we have undertaken a review to make sure our bakery operation is relevant for the way the market and our customers have evolved.”