The strike planned for yesterday (December 19) at 2 Sisters’ West Midlands sites has been cancelled in a bid to enable workers to reach an agreement with management.
Unite the union’s regional officer Des Quinn said on Monday (December 17): “Tomorrow’s strike has been called off so that progress can be made in talks with the management with a view to reaching a fair and equitable settlement.”
The strike was the second in a series of three 24-hour strikes by 1,200 Unite union members.
The industrial action is in protest over pay, working conditions and an alleged culture of bullying at the poultry processor’s West Midlands facilities.
A spokesman for 2 Sisters told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We’re pleased Unite has confirmed that it is cancelling the strike planned for tomorrow, which will enable us to continue discussions with Unite and our employees.”
The first 24-hour strike took place last week (December 14) as talks with management broke down.
Deadlocked on pay
It was at 2 Sisters’ sites in Bevan Way and Dial Lane in Smethwick, West Bromwich and the Lincoln Street plant in Wolverhampton.
Quinn said: “Discussions have made good progress on some of the issues, but we remain deadlocked on pay and seven-day day working. Further discussions are welcomed by Unite.”
2 Sisters said that a move to a seven-day working pattern was critical to ensure the company met increased demand for its chickens. This had been created by winning a new contract to supply a major supermarket chain next year.
A 2 Sisters spokesman said: “2 Sisters is a growing company. We will be creating 500 jobs in the local area , but we can only do this by working with our employees and if there is no strike.
500 new jobs at risk
“We will do everything possible to prevent any action going ahead and risking these jobs. We will continue working together with our employees and remain confident that we all want job security, to serve our customers and grow our business.”
Unite said it was keen to reach an agreement but not at any price.
Quinn said: “Our members voted almost unanimously for strike action over the company’s original paltry pay offer. Our members are struggling on incomes just above national minimum pay levels.
“Unite is ready at any time to resume talks with the company, but management has to put a realistic offer on the table.”
“The 24-hour strike scheduled for this Friday (December 21) is still set to go ahead.”
2 Sisters insisted that any strikes would not affect production as the company would be able to meet demand with supply from other sides.
Meanwhile, the firm's boss Ranjit Boparan has reported "a solid start" to the group's new finanical year.