Why is Lineker silent over 400 Walkers staff facing the sack?
He loves speaking out on Twitter. But angry workers want to know...
HE is the very well-paid face of Walkers crisps, forever tweeting about his support for refugees and other worthy causes.
But Gary Lineker has appeared far less sympathetic to almost 400 workers set to lose their jobs at a Walkers factory.
The staff claim the former England footballer is turning a ‘blind eye’ over the plant closure to protect his £1.5million deal with the crisps company.
Lineker has called Brexit Britain a ‘dystopian land’, telling his 5.8million Twitter followers the decision to leave the EU makes him ‘feel ashamed of my generation’. He has also said public attitudes to refugees can be ‘hideously racist and utterly heartless’, and he encouraged bosses at Walkers to pull advertising from tabloid newspapers over the subject.
But his agent said the 56-yearold had ‘no comment whatsoever’ when given another chance to show support for staff at the Peterlee crisp factory in County Durham this week.
This has left workers on the production line furious after their numerous requests for help. Darren Meadows, who is leading the campaign against the plant’s closure, said: ‘ It would be great for Gary Lineker to show his support for the 400 workers, and help campaign against the closure.
‘It’s probably the money he’s getting that’s stopping him. He’s turning a blind eye. We’ve seen him on national television in his boxers, it would be great to see him showing his support, not just for workers but for the community. The money he gets, we could put a lot more people in employment.’
Lineker has been ambassador for Walkers since 1995, and makes more than £1.5million a year from the contract.
This is on top of a £1.8million salary from the BBC for presenting Match of the Day, equivalent to £51,000 per episode, contributing to his estimated net worth of £30million. One worker said: ‘My personal opinion of Gary Lineker couldn’t be published in your newspaper.
‘He was mentioned in one of the union meetings. I’d like to see him get off the bus in the town, he’s not very popular. If he came here he’d get abuse.
‘He could change things, it would be nice to see something from him in the papers.’
He added: ‘ He should be focusing on causes closer to home, he’s made a fair bit of money from Walkers.
‘It’s a massive shame the factory’s going. It’s massive for the local economy – it’s one of the biggest employers. There were tears at the meeting.’
PepsiCo, the American company which owns Walkers and makes around £30billion profit per year, plans to move production to plants in the Midlands. Union discussions have continued after a petition of 2,000 signatures was handed in to representatives two weeks ago, but PepsiCo has shown no sign it will deviate from a December closure.
Campaigners believe support from Lineker could make a marked difference. One resident, who has lived in Peterlee all his life and has links to the factory, said: ‘He should have put his head above the parapet. But is he that interested? Not really.’
PepsiCo’s Peterlee manufacturing director Tracey Foster said: ‘We appreciate this is very upsetting news for everyone at the site. No decisions will be made without first consulting employees and their representatives.’
‘He’s not very popular’