The union balloted staff in June on strike action due to contractual changes proposed by the firm, with 108 in favour and seven opposed. But the BFAWU called off an initial two-day strike, scheduled for August 11-12, at the eleventh hour.
A BFAWU spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We are having to reballot members upon the basis of a technicality, since the company complained that we had submitted the results within an email, rather than on hard copy.”
He said that Maple Leaf Bakery UK recently concluded a statutory 90-day consultation period, during which it advised over 200 staff at the Birchill factory (which makes own-label in-store bakery bread and Italian bakery products) of contractual changes: including reduced pay, cuts to overtime bonuses and holiday.
“Staff are looking at a general change to terms and conditions. The company are prepared to up basic pay rates to £6.88 an hour, but are trying to remove overtime rates for weekend work, as well as shift premiums,” he said.
The spokesman also claimed that Maple Leaf had not played fair with some employees who attempted to accept changes to contractual terms with attached letters of protest: “It is my understanding that basic contract law entitles employees to include such a letter,” he said.
In response to the union’s comments, Maple Leaf Bakery UK HR director Bob Archer told FoodManufacture.co.uk “The company continues to look for a resolution of the current dispute with the trade union representing our employees which is fair and reasonable to both parties and protects the business at the Walsall site.
“The current dispute is set against a continued bleak economic background, a robust and competitive marketplace and trading environment and severely increased raw material costs.
“All these issues are challenging at a time when our customers are continuing to place demands upon the business at Walsall to produce a product at a market competitive price.”
Maple Leaf Bakery UK is a leading specialty bakery producing bagels, croissants, Italian ciabatta and other bakery products for the UK and European markets. It employs approximately 1,200 people in the UK across six facilities.