Marmite row sparks union fears for workers

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Marmite was unavailable to buy on Tesco's website during a dispute between the supermarket and Unilever
Marmite was unavailable to buy on Tesco's website during a dispute between the supermarket and Unilever
Food manufacturing workers and shoppers should not become “collateral damage” victims of the government’s “chaotic” handling of Brexit, claims the GMB and Unite unions, after Unilever and Tesco rowed over the price of Marmite and PG Tips.

The unions’ comments followed news that Unilever wanted to raise the prices of its products in the wake of the falling value of the pound. Tesco responded by removing Unilever products from its website for purchase.

The GMB union said it was concerned that Unilever was exploiting the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and that loss of supermarket contracts would ultimately cause its workers and shoppers to suffer the consequences by pulling up prices.

Unite expressed similar concerns. It said Unilever employees must not get caught in the crossfire of the standoff.

‘Chaotic handling of Brexit’

GMB national officer for the food industry Eamon O’Hearn said: “It’s very common for suppliers and retailers to renegotiate supply contracts. But super-rich companies like Unilever must not be allowed to exploit the government’s chaotic handling of Brexit as an excuse for making workers and shoppers pay the price.”

Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “Unilever workers should not become collateral damage in the standoff between the company and Tesco. It is in everyone’s interests to solve the situation quickly, and is not helped by politicians feeding the hysteria with promises of boycotting British goods.”

Unilever had wanted to raise the prices of its products – including the brands Marmite, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and PG Tips – by about 10% in response to the falling value of sterling. Unilever’s finance chief Graeme Pitkethly said the price rise was a normal response to shifts in currency.

‘Successfully resolved’

After the dispute ended last night, a Unilever spokesman said: “Unilever is pleased to confirm that the supply situation with Tesco has been successfully resolved.

“We have been working together closely to reach this resolution and ensure our much-loved brands are once again fully available. For all those that missed us, thanks for all the love.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We always put our customers first and we’re pleased this situation has been resolved to our satisfaction.”

Meanwhile, Tesco confirmed Unilever products would be returning to its website in the coming days.

How the row between Unilever and Tesco was reported:

  • The Guardian​: Brand power ‘favours Unilever in row over UK-produced Marmite’
  • Daily Telegraph​: Tesco pulls Marmite from online store amid Brexit price row with Unilever
  • Financial Times​: Tesco pulls products over plunging pound
  • The Independent​: Brexit hits supermarkets for first time as pound slump sparks Tesco-Unilever row
  • Daily Mirror​: Tesco withdraw Marmite, PG Tips, Flora, Ben & Jerry’s and dozens more household brands from shelves in Brexit price war
  • Daily Mail​: Consumers ‘face Brexit price hikes’ following Unilever and Tesco row

Related topics: Business News, Ambient foods, Brexit Debate

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1 comment

Down/Side of Globalisation.

Posted by Ron Wootton,

A lot of the Britsh Food Brands are no longer made in this country, thanks to the Multinationals, and Unions.

The fact that any changes in the exchange rates, between countries will impact greater finished products, brought into this country from stronger currencies will greater impact on costs of the finished product. However, if ingredients are brought into the country for manufactured in this country, it will have a minimal effect overall on the finished product price, with or without Brexit effect.

Has not these architects of globalisation, not make plans for these eventualities or circumstance that can occur with or without Brexit or have they just blindly followed the dictates of their accountants!

This is just greed for maximum profit without joined up thinking.

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