The Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G) expected over 500 workers from two Grampian Country Food Group chicken processing plants to go on 24-hour strike today (October 30) in protest over a pay freeze.
Although workers at the group’s Cambuslang site in Scotland had been awarded a 2.5% pay increase, those at the Welsh plants Llangefni and Sandycroft had not.
The T&G suggested the company was practising double standards. “They say that times are hard because of the economical climate, but it doesn’t ring true, when other plants are offered a pay increase,” said T&G regional officer Paddy McNaught.
However, Grampian said the group operated under several business units and that Cambuslung fell into the value-added category, while the Welsh plants, which process prime cuts of chicken, were in a separate category.
“Because of the very competitive nature of the industry, the [group’s] md recommended a pay pause and left it to local site management to decide on what level of pay award there would, or would not, be this year,” said a spokesman. He blamed the company’s problems on escalating feed, fuel and packaging costs and said it would re-evaluate the situation after the strike.
But the union refuted this explanation: “Grampian has stayed as frozen to its patronising ‘pay pause’ position as one of its products,” said T&G Wales regional secretary Andy Richards.
McNaught added: “Grampian’s staff rates have gone down to single shifts, instead of double, so the company is making significant savings. But the people have suffered heavily and they deserve a pay rise like the rest of the company.”
He claimed the company had changed its structure and “started to regionalise everything”. “There will be further strikes if this doesn’t get Grampian back to the negotiating table,” he warned.