The announcement had the effect of a thunderclap and took everyone by surprise. On March 2, the employees of the Buitoni pizza factory in Caudry, in the North, learned that their site was shut down ” until further notice “. Owned by Nestlé France, it found itself at the heart of a health scandal in March 2022, after the death of two children and the poisoning of dozens of other Escherichia coli bacteria.
The victims had consumed frozen pizzas with raw dough from the Fraîch’Up range manufactured on this site. A first inspection of the health services had revealed “numerous serious anomalies in terms of cleaning and general maintenance of the premises and equipment (…)as well as the presence of rodents in the bakery workshop”justifying the decision to close the site, taken by the Prefect of the North, on 1er April 2022.
The factory partially reopened in mid-December 2022, but only the baked-crust pizza line, not affected by the scandal, was allowed to restart. “Nestlé carried out 2 million euros of work to bring the site up to sanitary standards. He’s on top today.” notes Frédéric Bricout, the mayor (various right) of Caudry, for whom “The crisis was very badly managed” by the food giant. Nestlé spokesman explains the decision to stop production by “severely degraded order forecasts”.
“Our factory is now nickel”
He adds that “the frozen pizza market has fallen by 20% in one year and has had an even greater impact on the Buitoni brand, on the front line of this crisis”. Arguments that reopen an open wound among employees. “Our factory is now nickel. All the tests done since the reopening confirm this. And a hundred and forty people are going to lose their jobs? », questions Stéphane Derammelaere, Force Ouvrière delegate, very pessimistic about a resumption of activity after March 30.
This is the date given by Nestlé “to return to the partners social »stating that“At this stage, no decision has been made for the future of the plant”. Not enough to reassure employees, convinced that the ax will fall at the end of the month. “We were made to believe that it would start again and, overnight, nothing. I don’t believe in it anymore.” despairs Caroline Teixeira, 45, a production agent for ten years.
His colleague Nathalie (who did not wish to give her name), 54, is devastated. “We gave everything to ensure the cleanup, and we’ve come to this… We didn’t do anything, it’s not our fault. If we had spotted a problem, we would have escalated it. » Her voice choking with emotion, she adds: “We’re just pawns. » Caroline and Nathalie tell how badly they experienced being singled out after the death of the two children contaminated by the bacteria.
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