Chilled food manufacturer Greencore has again denied claims that it had breached employment law, as members of the union Unite flew to Dublin today (August 30) to lobby ceo Patrick Coveney.
A Greencore spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: "Greencore has no further comment to add to its previous statement. The company can confirm that it is has been in ongoing negotiations with Unite at its cakes and desserts facility in Hull around the terms of their employment.
“This has come about because the site has been substantially loss-making for the past two years due to over-capacity in the market, an increase in material costs and a weak consumer environment. Unite accepts that the site is loss-making.”
Pay and conditions
Workers from Greencore’s cakes and desserts factory in Hull are taking their fight to Dublin. A delegation from Unite planned to visit the company’s headquarters in Santry to deliver a petition signed by hundreds of workers. “The petition calls for a living wage and urges Greencore management to stop the attacks on their pay and conditions,” said the union.
Workers will also visit Dublin’s Department of Agriculture and Food to lobby for support. “The workers hope to enlist the support of the Irish government and Simon Coveney, the minister of agriculture − and brother of Patrick Coveney − to use the influence of their golden share in Greencore to urge them to end this unfair treatment to its loyal cake and dessert workers,” said the union.
The union claimed Greencore planned to permanently cut overtime, shift and bank holiday premia for its workers, most of whom earn the national minimum wage. It also threatened to sack 236 workers and replace them with agency workers if they do not sign up to the new terms, the union added.
Greencore said it was not cutting pay or putting jobs at risk. “Furthermore, less than 20% of the company's employees at the site are on the national minimum wage. The current proposal to employees involves an increase in base pay and absolutely no redundancies. However, the current financial situation at the site also means that Greencore has tabled proposals to remove premiums for overtime and bank holidays in order to maintain current employment levels and the sustainability of the site,” said the spokesman.
"Unite has a minority representation among Greencore employees at the site and has refused to formally ballot their members on any of the company's proposals. Unite has also failed to suggest any credible solutions to save costs at the site. Greencore believes that Unite is deliberately misrepresenting the facts of the present situation and strongly refutes the assertion that it has contravened any employment law at any stage during the course of this process. Greencore takes all such allegations extremely seriously,” claimed the firm.