Disgruntled workers at the Billingham factory of Marlow Foods, which trades as Quorn, planned a series of ‘discontinuous strikes’ between 5–13 February and continuous strike action from 14 February. The move followed what trade union Unite called a ‘paltry’ pay offer.
Unite claimed the pay offer – an increase of 2% – did not reflect workers’ efforts to keep production flowing during the pandemic or the company’s current financial performance. Annual sales were up 4.6% to £229.6m in its most recent results.
Demand for plant-based
It also pointed to a sales boost for Quorn’s products during lockdown as retail demand for plant-based products increased.
The new pay deal included a 2% pay rise backdated to June 2020 and an increase of retail price index plus 1% from June 2021 to May 2022. It also included an increase from 13 weeks to 26 weeks sick pay and a rise in staff retirement bonuses.
Unite said more than 60 production members – including lab, maintenance, electricians and stores staff – at the factory would benefit from the deal.
Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown said: “This excellent deal is testament to the hard work of Unite’s workplace representatives and the company. We look forward to working productively with the company as it goes from strength to strength in the future.”
Strike action has been threatened at a number of food and drink businesses since November last year.
In December, members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union at Greencore’s Northampton factory rejected a ‘divisive’ pay rise, claiming staff there have not been recognised as key workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Heineken faced a threatened strike at its Bulmers and Strongbow cider plant in Hereford over changes to workers pay and employment terms in what trade union Unite described as a ‘sack and sign’ campaign.