Bakkavör plans to cut hourly rates for workers in the lower of its five pay bands while raising the rate for workers at the top of the scale; the Icelandic food giant's proposals affect 493 weekly-paid staff at the site, which makes dips, convenience salads, sandwich wraps, soups and sauces.
'Absolutely and fundamentally wrong'
Unite site representative Andy Shaw told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the union believes that the proposals are “absolutely and fundamentally wrong.”
He said: “Some 117 staff will be positively affected but, 380 will be worse off. They are facing cuts in the hourly rate of up to 90p, which is a frightening prospect if you are on a low wage. These are people working in manual jobs in cold, damp factories with no natural light.”
He said the union has 60% membership at the site - which employs 1,176 employees in all - with a rush of new members applying to join since the pay proposals were first mooted by Bakkavör two weeks ago.
The Union has asked Bakkavör to reveal what cost savings it would make through the restructure and to put these back into rewarding staff.
Shaw said: “Spalding is already a profit-making site, and we know that there are investment plans there over the next 12 months. We are horrified by these proposals which hit the worst off hardest and will use all resources that we have to assist members in opposing these proposals."
A Bakkavör statement said: “For some time now we have recognised that our pay rates are not in line with our peers in the industry and some of our roles need to be restructured to reflect the operational changes we have made to the site over this time.”
“Bakkavör Spalding is trading in a climate governed by commodity price inflation and tighter price margins. We must ensure we are competitive to continue as a sustainable business into the future.”
Will new grades hit the poorly paid?
According to the Lincolnshire Free Press, a proposal sent out to staff shows the review of pay grades will hit the lowest paid workers.
Grade A workers should see a rise from £8.37 an hour to £8.75 while the Grade E workers’ rate drops from £7.24 to £6.59.
Grade D staff will see a drop in pay from £7.44 to £6.80 an hour while grades B and C stay the same.
The plan will also see many people’s pay grade change – with 76 ‘wraps operatives’ due to drop from grades C to D.
The paper also reports that when staff first join Bakkavör they earn 90% of the full wages for six months. That will mean a Grade E worker will earn £5.93 an hour, the minimum wage.
The Spalding site near Peterborough is Bakkavör’s largest site, and produces around 1,000 fresh prepared food lines.