The union planned the protest to highlight the own-label manufacturer’s plans to allegedly extend working hours to 3am and cut workers’ contracted hours. The loss of hours would result in workers losing £14.40 each, the GMB claimed.
The GMB decided to stage the protest at Tesco headquarters in Welwyn Garden City because the retailer was Bakkavor’s main customer, it said.
‘Disappointed with the inaccuracies’
Bakkavor told FoodManufacture.co.uk it was “disappointed with the inaccuracies” included within the GMB statement about changes to pay and conditions and the GMB’s proposed action.
The manufacturer said it had been working to boost capacity to meet growing demand in one of its key categories. “This has involved both investment and a need for a shift pattern change,” said a spokesman for the business.
“The shift pattern being proposed is already in place and well established in another part of the business.”
The GMB claimed Bakkavor had moderated some of its requests after talks with the union but outstanding problems remained.
GMB senior organiser Tony Warr said: “GMB welcomes the company’s decision to halt proposals on terms and conditions and annual leave policy.
‘Fundamental difference of opinion’
“However, issues around the shift patterns for workers making houmous are unresolved. There remains a fundamental difference of opinion between the union and Bakkavor with regards to the compulsory transfer of large numbers of employees from one site to another.”
The union remained concerned that many workers “over half of which are women, will be stranded in Park Royal at three in the morning with no transport to get home”, claimed the GMB.
Bakkavor acknowledged “ongoing, extensive dialogue” with the GMB, employee representatives and employees over proposed changes. “This has involved working to address and resolve the concerns raised by the GMB, as well as engaging and clearly communicating with them on the changes proposed.”
The manufacturer said it was “naturally disappointed” that the GMB was planning to protest. It pledged to continue talks among all parties in a bid to avoid any action avoided.
No-one from Tesco was available to comment on the row.
What they say about the Tesco protest
“We are naturally disappointed that the GMB is proposing this action. We continue to encourage further dialogue among all parties involved to ensure an agreement can be reached and any action avoided.”
“Tesco have strong ethical and moral standards to uphold, and [they] regularly audit Bakkavor to ensure these are maintained.
“They appear oblivious to the fact that many workers, over half of which are women, will be stranded in Park Royal at three in the morning with no transport to get home.”