Sweet factory workers to strike over pay and work conditions

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Tangerine's York factory workers to strike for four days
Tangerine's York factory workers to strike for four days

Related tags: Private equity firm, Kohlberg kravis roberts, Gmb

Workers at confectionery maker Tangerine have planned a four-day strike, beginning on November 8, over a pay rise dispute and what are claimed to be poor working conditions, according to the GMB union.

Union members at Tangerine’s York factory were “frustrated and angry”​ over planned pay rises, GMB claimed. The union said the company “begrudgingly”​ offered a 1% pay rise after agreeing to meet with its representatives. The offer was unanimously rejected by members.

GMB organiser Ben Kirkham said: “This is not about rejecting an outright 1% pay increase, this is about GMB members rebuilding their terms and conditions. We have witnessed a long list of attacks on paid breaks and hand washing time, pension contributions reduced, pension provider changed, training money and bonus payments pulled – the list really is endless.

‘Scrooge employer’

“GMB members feel that they have been backed into a corner and are faced with no other option than to strike. I really must stress this is a last resort for our members. As Christmas approaches, we’re saying ‘bah, humbug’ to this Scrooge employer.”

After the planned strikes, beginning next Tuesday (November 8), GMB said continuous industrial action short of a strike would follow throughout November if negotiations failed. Further action would be taken beyond November 30 if necessary, GMB stated.

‘Eroding workers’ terms and conditions in favour of profit’

Tangerine – manufacturer of confectionery brands Refereshers, Butterkist, Fruit Salad, BlackJack and Flumps – were bought by a US private equity firm in 2011. The US firm, Blackstone Group, “returned this investment by eroding workers’ terms and conditions in favour of profit”​, claimed the union.

Kirkham said: “We’ve seen a US based private equity firm come to the UK and smash the Tangerine dream. What was once a pleasant place to work and a valued career choice for many is now nothing more than a sweet return for its capital partners. We’ve even seen the warehouse radio removed. Why?”

FoodManufacture.co.uk has asked Tangerine for comment.

GMB members strike at Tangerine confectionery – at a glance

  • Members at York factory to strike over pay and working conditions
  • Four-day strike beginning November 8
  • 1% pay rise unanimously rejected by members

Related topics: Confectionery, People & Skills

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