Unite confirmed that a meeting between Tulip and its members would take place at 2.30pm tomorrow (March 27), but warned that it did not have high hopes for the discussions.
Franny Joyce, regional officer at Unite, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We are due to meet with the firm on Tuesday at 2.30pm. But the firm are only agreeing to it because the law legally requires them to. It has still yet to show any signs of wanting to conduct a meaningful consultation.”
Joyce hit out at the firm and described its behaviour in the dispute so far as “absolutely disgraceful.”
Dignity and honour
“We want them to treat the workers with the dignity and honour that they deserve, and to offer them the correct severance package,” he added.
“There is no need whatsoever to treat them like this.”
Unite revealed that, prior to this agreement, it had contacted Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service ACAS with a view to resolving the dispute.
But this was rejected by Tulip, which felt an agreement could be reached without outside assistance, despite the row continuing, Joyce claimed.
Unite has already slammed the firm on numerous occasions as a result of the dispute. Earlier this month, the union accused Tulip of “Vulture-like behaviour” after claiming that it had backed out of agreed redundancy payments.
A week later, the union then accused the firm of attempting to bribe the former workers into accepting a lesser redundancy package.
It also accused Tulip of preventing staff from gaining alternative employment during their notice period.
The accusations came after Unite revealed that staff had been locked out of the site after Tulip abruptly closed the factory on March 6.
Speaking on March 19, Joyce said: “The arrogance of this company and its representatives is unbelievable. They have taken workers’ jobs, locked them out, and disgracefully taken 50% of their redundancy pay by not agreeing to the enhanced redundancy terms.
“Now managers are trying to bribe them to go quietly or they will prevent them from trying to get a new job for the duration of their notice period.”
Tulip was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
But speaking after the site closure on March 12, Peter Judge, chief operating officer at Tulip said: “There have been a number of operational issues with the Abbey Street site that has meant we have had to take the very difficult decision to cease all production as from today.
“Although everyone at Tranfoods has been working very hard, the operational difficulties have proved to be far greater than first envisaged and have left us with no viable option other than to cease production.”
As a result, production would now be moved to Bodmin in Cornwall, according to the firm.