Unite, which represents workers at its Holme-on-Spalding-Moor facility, said the staff were given a “shoddy pay offer” resulting in 73% of members voting in favour of strike action.
According to Unite, the workers are due to walk out at 6pm on 12 January, after voting for strike action over a 2% pay offer for the year starting July 2018. The strike action is expected to end at 6pm on 15 January. The site focuses on the production of sweetened dairy products, including sweetened condensed milk and chocolate crumb products, while recently it has added the manufacture of soft cheese and foodservice products to this facility.
Meadow Foods is the UK’s largest independently owned dairy group and handles more than 650m litres of milk each year from over 650 farmer suppliers. It has sites in Peterborough, Chester and Holme-on-Spalding-Moor.
Unite regional officer Dave Monaghan said: “Our members have overwhelmingly rejected a shoddy 2% pay offer and are seeking an increase in line with the retail price index, currently running at 3.2%, to keep up with the soaring cost of living.
“This modest demand is in sharp and glaring contrast with the excessive 82% increase that the company directors pocketed as highlighted in the latest accounts.
“It’s no wonder that our members are furious at the huge ‘them and us’ disparity between the pay of the bosses compared with those that actually generate the profits.”
Monaghan added that the strike action could be avoided.
“There is still a generous window of opportunity for the management to sit down and enter into meaningful negotiations before the strike is due to commence," he said. “This site produces ingredients for other manufacturers and, if the strike goes ahead, we predict it will have a negative impact on the factory’s ability to keep up with customer demand.”
In response to the proposed strike action, a Meadow Foods spokesman said:
"Meadow Foods is involved in pay negotiations with a small number of unionised employees at our site in Holme on Spalding Moor (HoSM). We are a fair and generous employer with no history of industrial action and hope to get this matter resolved as soon as possible.
"The fair and sustainable pay increase proposed by Meadow Foods is supported by the majority of our 300 workforce and so we are disappointed that a small group of employees at our HoSM site has decided to take this action.
"Meadow Foods’ management remains committed to positively resolving this issue as soon as possible. Our door remains open for continued constructive negotiations."
The spokesman added that Meadow Foods did not expect there to any significant impact on customers, due to the business being able to continue to operate despite this action, and iterated that it "consistently gave pay increases of 2% while many competitors either froze pay rises or capped them at 1%".