The union announced strikes for 24 hours on 15 May and 72 hours starting on 26 May at JDE’s Banbury factory would go ahead if talks between members and managers at the manufacturer broke down. This was in addition to an already announced strike to be held on 8 May.
Talks between Unite and JDE management, under the auspices of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) followed the decision by the Dutch-owned company to issue notice of dismissal and engagement for 291 employees.
Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said the union was going into tomorrow’s talks with a ‘constructive frame of mind’.
Strike and overtime ban
“However, if this highly profitable firm digs its heels in, we have a programme of strike action in place for this month starting with a 24 hour strike on Saturday (8 May), as well as the continuous overtime ban which began on 1 May,” said Clarke.
“We believe this industrial action will eventually cause severe disruption to production schedules and therefore hit the company where it hurts – on the bottom line which won’t amuse the global management.”
JDE previously said there was an overwhelming need to reset operations at the Banbury factory, but made assurances that a majority of employees would gain financially or be compensated if impacted negatively by the changes.
A JDE UK spokesperson said: “We look forward to meeting with Unite and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) today. We have clear areas of feedback from our associates to discuss on the latest proposals. We hope that we will be able to reach an agreement with Unite so that we can move forward.
Disappointed with strike action
“The union has notified us of a 24-hour strike on Saturday 8 May and we are obviously disappointed that some associates might choose to participate but we respect their right to make their voices heard on the proposals.”
Unite claimed strike action would lead to coffee shortages across the country, a claim that was dismissed by the manufacturer.
Other developments include another demonstration outside the Banbury site tomorrow (8 May), which followed a similar protest held by staff and members of the local community last week.
“The community has shown great support to our members and people are horrified by the dogmatic and hard-line attitude of local bosses that could be a body blow to the regional economy,” Clarke added. “Some of our members could lose between £7,000 - £12,000-a-year which may mean some of them losing their homes.”