Workers at Weetabix factories are to stage a series of strikes in a dispute over contracts.
Members of Unite working as engineers at the plants in Kettering and Corby will strike for 48 hours from today [September 21] followed by walkouts throughout the autumn.
The union said workers face changes to their shift and working patterns which it claims would result in some being up to £5000 a year worse off.
“The idea of ‘fire and rehire’ is abhorrent to me,” Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said.
“If Weetabix decides to go down this route and they overstep the line then I will absolutely defend our members.”
Strike action was originally scheduled for June but was postponed to allow for talks with the employer.
Those talks led to new proposals being put to the workers but were overwhelmingly rejected in a ballot.
Usdaw said it has resolved a separate dispute with Weetabix over shift pay at the Kettering factory, which had led to industrial action, after 82 per cent of the union’s members voted to accept a new offer.
Area organiser Ed Leach added: “We are pleased to have come to a resolution after the company finally moved on the issue and reinstated the 27.5 per cent shift pay premium.
“It is disappointing that we had to resort to a 24-hour stoppage and I thank our members for standing strong against a significant threat to their pay.”
A spokesperson for Weetabix Food Company told Grocery Gazette: “We are sorry to see our engineering team going on strike, but respect their right to do so. Over nearly 90 years we’ve built a strong relationship with our workforce, and to stay competitive for the next 90 years we need to bring in necessary new ways of working.
“It is unfair and inaccurate to compare this with other disputes that require new contracts to be signed or face dismissal; this is not a choice we’re considering at present. We remain in close consultation with our engineers and their representatives and are confident that the opportunity still exists to find a resolution that creates future shared success.
“We are not expecting to see any impact on our stock availability as a result of this or future strikes, due to robust planning and a resilient supply chain.”
with PA Wires