A Bakkavor spokesman said: “We are naturally disappointed that our recent increased pay offers have been declined. In view of current difficult trading conditions and compared with wider food industry settlements, we believe that they represented a full and fair package and were the best which we were able to make.”
‘Tolerated below inflation increases’
But the GMB union said its members had tolerated below inflation increases in pay for the past four years while, ensuring that the business has thrived and continued to make profit.
Last November GMB members rejected a 2.5% increase on the basic rate and shift premiums and a £60 Christmas bonus in a ballot, it said.
Last ditch negotiations on Wednesday (January 8) failed, despite talks with the manufacturer at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), added the union. The GMB gave assurances that significant improvements would be made but the company tabled an “improved” offer of a £10 voucher to be used in the company’s staff shop, claimed the union.
Tony Warr, senior organiser, said: “Offering a £10 voucher to be spent in the Staff Shop will be considered as an insult by GMB members.
“The industrial action ballot will commence very shortly and GMB fully expects its members to support the call for action. This is not a militant workforce, far from it, but they are not prepared to accept such a derisory improvement.”
Warr added that the GMB had agreed with Bakkavor management to delay the vote on strike action, on the basis that any improved offer would be significant. But the terms of reference for the ACAS meeting had been overlooked, he alleged.
The Bakkavor spokesman said: “We continue to encourage further dialogue among all parties involved to ensure an agreement can be reached and any industrial action avoided.”
The result of the ballot will be known on Wednesday January 29.
Bakkavor supplies ready meals and pizza to four of the UK’s biggest supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury, Tesco, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.