More than 100 production workers at the Kilver Street site voted on whether to strike or adopt some other form of industrial action in a ballot that closed today (January 24). Unite the union claimed last week that its members were enduring the fourth year of a pay freeze.
It also pointed out that office workers at the site were awarded a 3% pay increase 18 months ago.
Unite regional officer Hugh Kirkbride said the company had repeated its offer of 3% for 2012–13 and the three shifts at the site voted to accept this offer.
‘Victory for worker solidarity’
“The threat of industrial action forced the company to put the 3% offer back on the table and also to withdraw any pre-conditions about future negotiations over pay,” said Kirkbride. “It has been a victory for worker solidarity.”
Kirkbride said the firm wanted to start negotiations about changes in production and working patterns and that the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service had agreed to take part in the talks with workers and key decision makers in the company.
“The union goes into these negotiations with our heads held high – and we wish to engage in these talks in a constructive and positive manner,” added Kirkbride.
Future pay talks
The dispute had focused on management decision to make the original 3% offer conditional on a wage freeze for 2013–14, claimed the union. But the company had reinstated the offer – without conditions over future pay talks.
No one from the C&C Group was available to speak to FoodManufacture.co.uk before this story was published.
But last week a spokesman for the firm claimed: “The local Unite representative has misrepresented the facts in a number of key areas and we have asked the union for a meeting to discuss his involvement in the process.”
The C&C Group is the world’s second largest cider maker. Its household brands include Gaymers Original, Olde English and Blackthorn.