2 Sisters seeks union talks after Pennine strike

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

2 Sisters is seeking talks with union officials to avert the threat of further strikes
2 Sisters is seeking talks with union officials to avert the threat of further strikes

Related tags: Strike action, Meal, Trade union

2 Sisters Food Group is seeking talks with the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), after its members at Pennine Foods factory in Sheffield staged a 48-hour walkout, at the end of last week.

The BFAWU claimed some of its members would lose £5,000 after changes to their contracts. The union claimed the changes would end extra weekend pay and days in lieu for weekend and bank holiday work.

A spokesman for 2 Sisters told FoodManufacture.co.uk today (May 23): “We are disappointed some colleagues have decided on industrial action, given the union leadership’s acceptance of our new terms in February.

“We will be holding more talks to avert any further action, and have contingency plans in place to ensure production remains unaffected.

‘Holding more talks’

“We are committed to securing a long-term, sustainable future for Pennine Foods, as we showed last year with a £38M investment programme to upgrade the factory into a world-class production facility.”

But BFAWU regional secretary John Higgins told FoodManufacture.co.uk that no further talks had been scheduled between the union and 2 Sisters Food Group. Since no negotiations had been put in place, he expected a further 48h walk out, planned to start on Sunday June 5, to go ahead.

About 400 staff at the Pennine Foods factory – which manufactures ready meals for Marks & Spencer – were understood to have taken industrial action. Striking workers mounted a protest outside the factory.

The total workforce employed at the factory numbered about 900.

Total workforce

The BFAWU regional leader said a ballot of workers had revealed that more than 90% would refuse the new contract. Higgins said: “People are entitled to work for a better living wage not for a worse living wage.”

Last month, 2 Sisters rejected suggestions it was facing strike action at Pennine Foods site and the Fox’s Biscuit factory in Batley, West Yorkshire. The BFAWU had accused the manufacturer of trying to offset the extra cost of the National Living Wage by cutting a number of other working benefits, which it denied.

Meanwhile, in September 2015, 2 Sisters revealed that its £38M reconstruction of the Pennine Foods factory would be completed by the end of 2017 and would expand capacity and safeguard more than 800 jobs.

Speaking last year, 2 Sisters divisional md Simon Wookey said its chilled division was outpacing the average growth of the chilled ready meals’ sector as a whole.

“We continue to see an opportunity to drive further market share growth in the ready meal sector supported by a new state of the art factory in Sheffield,”​ he said.

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