More strikes ‘inevitable’ at Unilever’s Colman’s Mustard plant

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Further strike action at the Colman’s Mustard plant is 'inevitable' if the firm does not settle the row quickly, said the GMB
Further strike action at the Colman’s Mustard plant is 'inevitable' if the firm does not settle the row quickly, said the GMB

Related tags: Industrial action, Trade union, Strike action, Gmb

Further strike action against Unilever is “inevitable” if the company does not return to talks, a leading trade union has claimed.

On Tuesday (April 26), members of both the GMB and Unite unions went on strike for 24-hours at its Norwich site, in a dispute over pay.

However, Unilever has said it is open to further talks. 

The food factory in Norwich produces Colman’s Mustard alongside other condiments.

The company had rejected GMB and Unite members’ claim for an increase in pay of 2.4%, for the period April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016. The GMB revealed that the company had offered a 1.4% increase, which the unions had rejected.

Pay increases below RPI

The unions claimed that staff at the Norwich factory had been receiving pay increases, which have been well below the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

Stuart Fegan, GMB national officer, said that it had taken over a year before taking the decision to take strike action.

“It is obviously disappointing that our members feel the need to undertake this lawful industrial action for their modest pay claim to be met by the company,”​ he said.

“GMB fears that if the company does not settle this dispute quickly, then escalation of action by our members will be inevitable.

“Our members don’t take strike action because they want to, they do it because they have to.”

‘Finally come home to roost’

Rhys McCarthy, Unite national officer, said: “Years of getting away with below inflation pay increases have finally come home to roost.

“Our members’ hard work and commitment to Unilever have seen growth in sales, volume and profits. However, instead of getting a fair share of this success, our members have seen the company ceo pocket eye watering pay increases of 24%.”

A spokesman for Unilever said the industrial action would have no impact, apart from at the plant itself. But said it was open to more talks.

“We are disappointed that the trade unions at our Norwich factory have decided not to ballot our employees on our improved pay offer, and instead move straight to industrial action,” ​the spokesman said.   

“We are confident that our offer delivers a package of pay and benefits that is both competitive and appropriate, and we remain open to further discussions with both the GMB and Unite unions.”

Related topics: Ambient foods, Flavours and colours

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