Unite, the union, said that it would ballot its members at the factory unless Kingsmill owner Allied Bakeries made a pay offer that reflected the rise in the cost of living. Unite has 150 members at the factory, including drivers and engineers.
The union warned that its members were at “breaking point” and were likely to back industrial action in a vote to strike.
Unite regional officer Joe Clarke said: “Unite members have become increasingly frustrated by Kingsmill and the bosses’ refusal to recognise their hard work with a cost-of-living pay rise.
‘Increasingly frustrated by Kingsmill’
“To add insult to injury we also have issues surrounding pay parity within the West Bromwich depot and pay inequality with other depots around the UK, in addition to the use of sub-contractors.”
Clarke warned that industrial action would have a major impact on many of the retailers that Kingsmill supplied to in the West and East Midlands, including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury.
“With workers’ pay packets getting squeezed because of inflation, its time that Kingsmill stopped dragging its feet and offered a cost of living pay rise to these loyal, hard working workers,” added Clarke.
Kingsmill’s West Bromwich plant underwent a £25M improvement three years ago and is one of the UK’s largest bakeries, employing about 400 people.
Pay talks since May
Commenting on the proposed action by the union, a spokesman for Allied Bakeries said it had been in pay talks with workers and their unions since May.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t yet been able to bring about a resolution that is satisfactory to all parties and we are disappointed that the West Bromwich branch of Unite has chosen to ballot for industrial action,” said the spokesman.
“We have made what we believe is a good offer to the drivers at the West Bromwich site, which is comparable to those offers accepted by all other locations in the UK.”
Allied Bakeries said it was open to further discussions with the union, but it did not expect the situation to cause any disruption to its bread supply for its customers or consumers.
Meanwhile, last month, staff at Tulip’s Coalville site considered strike action, after senior management refused a pay rise, claimed the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.