The two-week ballot of 700 members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) at the site starts today.
Workers usually receive an annual pay offer in the last week of March from Park Cake, but none was made this year, BFAWU regional officer Roy Streeter explained.
He told FoodManufacture.co.uk that he had been informed during negotiations with Park Cake management that the site was not profitable.
He said: “The pay offer is usually made in the last week of March, but we were told this time that there would not be one, but that this would be reviewed in September. However, by then we are into the Christmas period and by the time we had given the eight weeks’ legal notice for industrial action it would lose its impact. Therefore, in members’ best interests, we are balloting now.”
Anne Allen, ceo of Park Cake Bakeries, said in a statement: “We are committed to constructive engagement with our employees at a time when the cake and desserts industry continues to face competitive and pricing pressure.
“We are working to manage these pressures while continuing to deliver high-quality, affordable products to our customers and support growth and jobs over the long term.”
Park Cake’s Oldham site has a total of 1,100 employees, 700 of whom are members of BFAWU in different bargaining groups, and the rest agency staff.
Members at Park Cake’s other site in Bolton were not involved in the current balloting process, Streeter said.
This is the second time the BFAWU members at Park Cake have moved towards strike action in a year.
The BFAWU called off a strike across the two sites last November, over changes to contracts for new employees, after some concessions from management. (To read more about this, click here.)
Park Cake makes slab cake, mini bites, sponge rolls, whole cake, and hot desserts for supermarkets. It had sales of £109M in the year to March 2011, according its holding company, the private equity group Vision Capital, which bought Park Cake from Northern Foods in November 2006.
Vision Capital also owns Fletchers Bakeries and Pork Farms, both also former Northern Foods businesses.