Workers at Tesco and Morrisons factory set for five-week strike

Workers at the facility in Spalding that makes own-brand products for major supermarkets rejected a 6.5% pay offer

More than 700 workers at a food manufacturing facility that supplies Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer will strike from late November until the new year in a row over pay.

Workers on the production line at the factory in Spalding, Lincolnshire, make own-brand salads, dips, sauces and deli produce for the UK’s major supermarkets.

They have rejected a 6.5% pay offer from the factory’s owner, the fresh food manufacturer Bakkavor, and the strikes will begin on 25 November and last until 2 January.

The Unite union claims many of the workers earn “just over 1p over the national minimum wage” and that some “are forced to use food banks”.

Workers were previously set to strike in early November but the industrial action was postponed to allow the amended pay offer from Bakkavor to be voted on. The new deal was “overwhelmingly rejected” and talks between Bakkavor and Unite have since collapsed, the union said.

Bakkavor said it was “disappointed” that strike action was going ahead and its pay offer was “competitive in the local market”.

The firm added that “contingency plans” were in place to ensure that “disruption is kept to a minimum” during the strikes.

It comes days after hundreds of workers at a factory in Aintree, near Liverpool, that makes Jacob’s Cream Crackers, Twiglets and Jaffa Cakes launched strike action in a dispute over pay.

Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “The situation these workers face is exactly what is wrong with Britain’s economy today: A company earning millions and millions in profits expecting already low paid workers to take a pay cut while prices soar.

“Unite will not tolerate attacks on our members’ jobs, pay or conditions and our Bakkavor members have the union’s complete backing as they strike for a better deal.”

A spokesperson for Bakkavor, said: “Bakkavor can confirm that following a ballot of its members, the Unite union has rejected the proposed 6.5% pay increase and will move to take strike action at Bakkavor’s Spalding site. Around half of Bakkavor’s colleagues at Spalding are members of the union.

“We have detailed contingency plans in place to ensure that we continue to serve our customers and that any disruption is kept to a minimum.

“Across its UK sites, Bakkavor has been awarding pay increases for colleagues – a move to support its people despite the challenging economic context for the sector. Bakkavor believes its proposed 6.5% pay award for colleagues in Spalding is positive and sustainable and is part of a broader package of employee benefits.

“Bakkavor’s proposed pay offer is competitive in the local market at a time when current trading conditions are causing significant levels of inflation across its cost base. Bakkavor is very disappointed the Unite union is going ahead with strike action based on pay claims that are simply unsustainable in the current trading environment.”

Contributor

Joe Middleton

The GuardianTramp

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