Jacobs Douwe Egberts coffee plant deal close for workers?

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

The JDE plant makes Kenco, Tassimo and Millicano coffee
The JDE plant makes Kenco, Tassimo and Millicano coffee

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Jacobs Douwe Egberts's (JDE's) coffee factory workers in Banbury, Oxfordshire will be balloted on a new pay and employment conditions’ package that removes controversial ‘fire and rehire’ proposals, according to trade union Unite.

So far this year, strikes have been threatened by unions at Weetabix​, British Sugar​ and Hovis​ plants, in addition to JDE's Banbury facility.

Unite and the management have held three weeks of intensive talks in a bid to resolve the dispute affecting 291 employees at the Ruscote Avenue site. The spat has provoked a rolling programme of industrial action since May, which is currently suspended. JDE had agreed to push back the implementation of ‘fire and rehire’ plans until 13 September​.

The details of the package will remain confidential while it is communicated to Unite’s members this week. Unite would then ballot workers on whether to accept the deal, which should be completed by the end of the first week of August.

'Fire and rehire' proposal

The main components of the package include removal of the management’s controversial ‘hire and fire’ proposal; safeguarding pay and employment conditions; and generous compensation if an employee has to change shifts.

“We are pleased to have reached a deal with the union which our associates will now be asked to vote on through the union’s ballot process," ​said a JDE spokeswoman.

"We recognise this has been a difficult time for them and their families and appreciate their patience throughout the process. Change is needed at Banbury manufacturing and we remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached that secures the future of the factory.”

'Intensive negotiations'

Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: “We have had three weeks of intensive negotiations with the management. We have now hammered out a package safeguarding pay and employment conditions for our members.

“We believe that this is the best deal that can be achieved through negotiations and we will be recommending acceptance to our members.

“I would like to pay heartfelt tribute to our members, their families and the wider Banbury community for the tremendous level of support and solidarity they have demonstrated during the course of this dispute. That support was a major contributor in obtaining the deal we now have and shows what can be achieved if working people stick together in adversity.”

Previous discussions broke down

The latest round of talks between the union and JDE followed the announcement that the manufacturer was to proceed with its proposals to dismiss and re-engage staff at its Banbury production plant, after previous discussions broke down​.

A JDE UK spokesperson said at the time: “We are pleased to confirm that we will be holding negotiations with Unite over the next fortnight and that the union will suspend industrial action during this time."

“We look forward to beginning these discussions on Monday (28 June) and are hopeful that we can reach an agreement that secures the future of the factory.”


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