2 Sisters slams Living Wage strike action threat

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

2 Sisters denied suggestions it was facing strike action
2 Sisters denied suggestions it was facing strike action

Related tags National living wage Trade union

2 Sisters has slammed suggestions it is facing strike action at two of its Yorkshire operations, after a union accused the food giant of trying to offset the extra cost of the National Living Wage by cutting a number of other working benefits.

According to the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), 2 Sisters has told staff at its Pennine Foods site in Sheffield, and the Fox’s Biscuit factory in Batley, that it plans to cut Sunday and Bank Holiday pay, overtime and time off in lieu for working unsociable hours.

The development comes in the wake of similar accusations made towards Ginsters manufacturer Samworth Brothers last week​, following an investigation by Channel 4.

BFAWU regional secretary John Higgins told FoodManuacture.co.uk that the result of a ballet on industrial action at Pennine Foods would be revealed on Thursday (April 21).

He claimed the “feeling on the shop floor”​ was that strike action was likely to take place. The first ballot, which asked workers whether they were prepared to support strike action, was met with a 95% positive response.

Staff affected

Higgins said: “Up to a quarter of the 800 staff at Pennine Foods will lose between £1,500 and £2,500 a year as a result of this change.

“We will give the relevant notice, which will probably be a fortnight, should workers vote in favour of striking.”

However, 2 Sisters told FoodManufacture.co.uk that there were no proposed strikes at either Pennie or Batley.

A spokesman said: “This is all part of the normal annual pay negotiations with the unions. The union at Pennine, which has recommended our pay package, is the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

“As part of our annual negotiations with colleagues, we have decided to implement a fairer system of pay across our factory.”

He added: “We have offered an across the board 2% pay increase in back pay, with an additional 1.5% from August. This means the lowest paid earn significantly more than the ​[National] Living Wage.

​The large majority of colleagues will now be better off as a result of these changes.

“Our union on site agrees with our approach, recommending that their members accept our proposals.”

‘Significantly above’ National Living Wage

Meanwhile, staff at Fox’s Biscuits at Batley and Kirkham in Lancashire are currently paid “significantly above” ​the National Living Wage, according to the 2 Sisters spokesman.

He said: “No colleagues are worse off following our revamped pay package proposals, which includes an across the board 2% increase across all grades.

“We have been negotiating with our union colleagues for some time to ensure a fairer and more transparent wage structure for everyone.”

The steps companies are taking to recoup costs following the imposition of the National Living Wage on April 1, are to be debated in Parliament this afternoon (Monday).

Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, will lead the parliamentary debate. It can be viewed live from 2.30pm here​.

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Posted by Mike Smith,

Industrial action imminent at another 2 SFG plant. R F Brookes Newport for a similar type of change to T & C. BFAWU Cardiff representing staff.

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