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Greencore workers win £1.2M pay row

By Mike Stones , 19-Nov-2012
Last updated the 19-Nov-2012 at 13:02 GMT

Greencore workers won an employment tribunal against the firm last week
Greencore workers won an employment tribunal against the firm last week

More than 400 workers at chilled convenience food manufacturer Greencore’s Hull factory will receive up to £1.2M after winning an employment tribunal dealing with cuts in their pay.

Unite the union said in 2010 its workers agreed to temporarily suspend premium pay rates and enhanced holiday pay rates from June 2010 to October 2011 “in order to help the company during difficult trading conditions”.

But, after the deadline, Greencore refused to revert to the workers’ original terms of employment, claimed the union. This lead the union to raise a group action for the unlawful deduction of wages.

Ethical principles

Jennie Formby, Unite national officer, said: “It's great news that the workers at this cake and dessert supplier to the country's best known supermarkets eventually got justice. This situation could have been avoided, if Greencore had listened to the union and adhered to some basic ethical principles.”

But a Greencore spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk while it acknowledged the tribunal’s decision, this was “an ongoing dispute” with the union regarding premium rates.

The spokesman added: “It is very important to note that the case has not concluded and, in particular, no specific claim has been agreed or stipulated by the tribunal. Further tribunal meetings are scheduled to take place over the next few months to bring the case to conclusion. Until that time, it is far too premature to discuss the Union claims.

Legal challenge

Formby agreed that “this isn’t the end of the matter”. She said: “Our members are now discussing next steps in the union campaign to restore fairness to the contracts of employment that were unilaterally and unfairly changed by Greencore after Unite pledged to mount this legal challenge.”

The union claimed that many of the Hull workers “had to survive on poverty wages since management changed the terms, then broke their promise even though the Greencore Group is extremely profitable”.

The Greencore spokesman said: “We believe that the management has a good dialogue with our colleagues at the Hull facility and our priority continues to focus on securing the long-term sustainability of the site and employment for the area.”

The firm operates 22 convenience foods manufacturing sites in the UK and the US and employs about 11,000 people.

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