Workers poised to strike at Burton’s Foods Blackpool

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Burton’s foods, Trade union, Strike action

Workers poised to strike at Burton’s Foods Blackpool
Staff at Burton’s Foods’ biscuit factory in Blackpool have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, after rejecting a 1.8% pay rise from the company.

Strikes are scheduled for July 12, July 18, July 20 and July 26, and if they go ahead staff will 'work to rule' and not do overtime, while all employees with the exception of engineers will take part.

The Devonshire Road site in Layton produces iconic brands such as Wagon Wheel, Maryland Cookies, Jammie Dodger and Cadbury Finger.

But Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) told FoodManufacture.co.uk this morning that possible strike action was a last resort, and that the union was keen to broker a solution.

Union wants dialogue

The first potential strike is scheduled for July 12, after 175 out of 202 workers balloted by the BFAWU voted for action over “disputed pay and conditions”.

But Hodson said the company would meet BFAWU representatives on Friday in an attempt to resolve the dispute, while an internal union branch meeting was scheduled for Saturday.

However, he criticised Burton’s for the 1.8% offer, noting that staff had suffered a pay freeze last year and that feeling amongst the workforce was so strong that an impressive numer (136) had volunteered for picketing line duty.

Hodson added that staff had also been angered by report in The Guardian​ last year, which stated that Burton’s directors' pay rose 97.5% on average in 2010, while workers were also aggrieved at earning less than staff at Burton’s' other UK sites.

However, a Burton's Foods spokesman said that directors had now agreed to a pay freeze until 2012, while non-director management was receiving a "no more than a 1.5% increasethis year".

He added that The Guardian's ​report related to figures in 2009 accounts, and that average increases had been inflated due to the retirement of Burton's former ceo, and costs associated with his departure.

Staff fed-up

But Hodson said.“People have had enough. They’re fed-up with the way they’ve been treated. The company have taken, and taken and taken over the past few years. Blackpool isn’t a high paid area anyway, and this is forcing people down to near minimum wage levels.”

A Burton’s Foods spokesman said: “Burton’s Foods is aware of proposed industrial action by BFAWU members at its Blackpool facility.

“The company remains committed to trying to find a negotiated settlement with the BFAWU and its members and will continue to work with the union over the coming weeks to achieve this.”

The Blackpool dispute follows Burton’s’ decision in May to retain its chocolate refining operation at its Moreton site on The Wirral, while it confirmed the closure of its biscuit factory on the site in December with the loss of 219 jobs.

However, the Labour MP for Moreton, Angela Eagle, said she was "extremely angry and disappointed​" by the closure of the biscuit facility, and that Burton's “should have shown more loyalty to staff who have been loyal to it”.

Related topics: Ambient foods, Bakery

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