Burton’s Biscuit fears Edinburgh strike will hit job security

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Burton's said it did not expect any supply issues
Burton's said it did not expect any supply issues

Related tags: Supply chain

Burton’s Biscuit Co has described proposed industrial action at its Edinburgh factory as ‘regrettable and unnecessarily damaging’.

The site produces shortbread products and brands such as Burton’s Fish ‘n’ Chips and Viscount biscuits, not Wagon Wheels and Jammie Dodgers as reported elsewhere. 

The news comes as the GMB trade union revealed that staff are to strike at the plant over a ‘derisory’ pay offer.

According to GMB, its members at the site voted by 91% for industrial action after management refused to increase a 1.6% wage rise offer for the next year. 

The GMB said an indefinite work to rule and overtime ban would start on Tuesday 8 September from 2pm before a series of 24-hour strikes throughout September. 

However, Burton’s has revealed that recent months have been ‘particularly challenging’ and the financial impact of COVID-19 on the Edinburgh bakery to date is £1.2m. 

Protecting jobs

It said it is focused on protecting the jobs of its 403 employees on site“especially in the context of the global crisis.”  ​It added that strike action along with the challenging environment might only serve to jeopardise employees’ ongoing job security.

We are shocked that the GMB is seeking a 7% pay increase for the Edinburgh Bakery’s GMB weekly-paid employees and has advised our colleagues to take a course of action which we do not believe is in their best interest,” ​said a spokesperson for Burton’s Biscuit Co. 

“We are always open to meaningful discussions on pay and our primary objective is the long-term employment for our staff and security during this period of uncertainty.”

“We have made an offer above inflation and have also discussed enhanced offers for additional flexibility in contracts. We are extremely disappointed that the GMB has chosen not to share these offers openly with their members, our employees.”

 

Economic uncertainty

The company added that ​against the backdrop of growing economic uncertainty, the economy potentially entering a depression and rising levels of unemployment, it believed that it had made fair and reasonable offers.     

However, GMB Scotland organiser Benny Rankin said: “Burton’s stubborn stance on this year’s pay offer is an insult to staff that have worked throughout the lockdown at management’s insistence. 

“In March, staff were told they were part of the key worker response and despite serious health and safety concerns over working practices, our members did what needed to be done for this business. 

“Burton’s derisory pay offer holds a mirror up to this management – they clearly do not value the contribution of their staff and have no interest in recognising and rewarding them properly.”  

Burton’s ​has said it does not expect any supply issues due to the industrial action. 

Burton’s Biscuit Company has acquired Paterson Arran in 2019​ one of Scotland’s leading independent food companies, broadening its product portfolio.

Strike action is set to take place on: 

  • 06.00 hours on Wednesday 9 September to 05.59 hours on Thursday 10 September.
  • 06.00 hours on Wednesday 16 September to 05.59 hours on Thursday 17 September.
  • 06.00 hours on Wednesday 23 September to 05.59 hours on Thursday 24 September

Related topics: Supply Chain, Bakery, COVID-19

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