Hundreds of 2 Sisters staff balloted on industrial action in pay dispute

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Industrial action, Trade union

Workers at 2 Sisters’ Corby are being balloted on an overtime ban
Workers at 2 Sisters’ Corby are being balloted on an overtime ban
Almost 600 workers at 2 Sisters’ Solway Foods site in Corby are being balloted on industrial action in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) are being asked to undertake a two week overtime ban, which would take place later this month.

One union official at the site who asked not to be named  ̶  claimed workers had effectively lost 10% in pay last May due to changes in shift allowances, overtime rates and bank holiday agreements in the past 12 months.

“We then found in October that salaried staff and senior management had been given a 2% pay rise backdated to August, so we said we want that too,”​ he said.

“The company said they couldn’t afford that and said those rises had been offered because salaried staff had had a three year pay rise ​ ̶  while we hadn’t.

“Well the changes we had last year put us back six years, so we’d have been better off with the same deal as them.”

£130M turnover

The union official said he understood 2 Sisters had contacted employment dispute organisation Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service to help resolve the problem.

The Corby site makes fresh sandwiches and salads and has an annual turnover of £130M, supplying outlets such as Tesco and Costa.

In January 2 Sisters announced plans to create 100 new jobs​ at the site after production volumes increased by around 6% in 2012 due to new business being secured.

The site employs about 1,200 permanent staff, with just under 600 believed to be BFAWU members. A spokesman for 2 Sisters said the action – if it goes ahead – would not impact on its customers.

“We are aware that a ballot has been called with regards to the site collective agreement, which may result in an overtime ban. While we are disappointed that the ballot has been called, our discussions with union and employee representatives will continue.

Major supplier

“2 Sisters Food Group operates in a highly competitive environment. As a major supplier to all of the UK’s leading retailers, we continually need to ensure that we deliver the highest quality at the lowest cost, particularly with trading conditions remaining challenging at this time and with high food inflation, due to higher commodity costs for the ingredients we buy to make our products.”

The Corby dispute follows high profile industrial action at the end of 2012 when 2 Sisters workers in the West Midlands held one of three planned strikes in December in a dispute over pay, conditions and alleged bullying at its West Bromwich site.

The dispute was resolved​ shortly before Christmas after the firm offered an “above inflation one per cent pay rise”​ which was backdated to August, while still being able to press ahead with its seven day production plans.

Just last week 2 Sisters told FoodManufacture.co.uk​ that this move, coupled with a new multi-million pound deal to supply poultry to Sainsbury would create an extra 500 new jobs ​at its poultry sites in the UK.

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