STRIKE action is a “possibility” for soft drink manufacturer workers who have been told their iconic workplace could close.

Meetings were held by Unite union members who work at the Britvic factory in Widford which has been earmarked for closure with a loss of 230 jobs in restructuring plans.

Petitions will be taken round Chelmsford by Britvic employees tomorrow as they look to gain public support in their fight to keep their workplace open.

Dave Turnbull, Unite’s Essex regional officer, said the majority of workers feel they have been “sold down the river”, adding although not certain yet, strike action might be taken in the future.

Mr Turnbull said: “We are not ruling out any possibilities at the moment but we are currently still in discussion with the company so we’ll see how it goes.

“On Friday we will be out in Chelmsford city centre with petitions to get the community to back the factory staying open.

“We are giving the company the courtesy to be listened to and see what they have to say and in turn hear what we have got to say.

“But our general feeling is the factory is important for the area and should stay open.”

Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for East of England, joined the workers at the meeting to show his support, saying he believes Britvic bosses should “rethink” their plans.

Mr Howitt said: “The Widford plant has long contributed to overall profits for the company and has deep historical roots in the local community.

“It is a key employer in Chelmsford and decisions made elsewhere will have a severe impact on individuals, families and the local community.

“I want to see the company change its mind, to keep the jobs in Chelmsford and I will continue to campaign with their union Unite for those under threat to keep their jobs, or be offered improved packages, with the best support and training opportunities.”