Workers union Unite claimed JDE had its members, their families and members of the public filmed and photographed during a 15 May picket protesting what it calls ‘fire and rehire’ tactics at the Banbury factory.
Joe Clarke, Unite national officer for the food industry, labelled JDE’s actions a flagrant breach of data protection legislation and claimed management intended to use the surveillance for future blacklisting of current employees.
A JDE spokesman said it was investigating the complaint, but added there had not been a breach in General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in relation to filming in a public space.
“We refute any claims that the filming was for ‘covert surveillance’ or in response to intimidatory behaviour by protesters,” said the spokesman.
“The person documenting the picket did so for reasons of personal safety following some previous instances of intimidatory behaviour towards some of our associates. This amounts to lawful and legitimate use while crossing a public picket.”
The protest was part of ongoing industrial action being held by the union in response to the manufacturer’s notice of dismissal and reengagement of 291 employees at the Banbury coffee plant.
Unite has demanded JDE hand over all films and photographs taken at the protest as it pursued legal action against what it described as management’s hardline attitudes to its members.
“The filming of children is particularly repugnant,” Joe Clarke continued. “We will continue to strongly support our members in what is already an extremely anxious and distressing time for them as they face these immoral unethical ‘fire and rehire’ plans.”
A 72-hour strike is planned at the Banbury plant for 26 May. A continuous ban on overtime started at the plant on 8 May.
The JDE spokesman added: ““We are obviously disappointed that some associates decided to participate in a 24-hour strike on Saturday but respect their right to do so.
“We encourage our associates to review our latest offer which sees the majority gain financially and provides compensation for those who are financially impacted as a result of the proposals.”