Quorn workers strike over pay dispute

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Quorn workers in Billingham will down tools starting 30 September
Quorn workers in Billingham will down tools starting 30 September

Related tags alternative protein Strike action

Workers at Quorn’s meat-free paste production factory in Billingham are to down tools next week, after talks over pay broke down.

More than 60 workers at the site will strike on 30 September and 1,2,4,5,6,7 and 8 October after Unite the Union members rejected a four percent pay offer plus a £1,000 bonus – the union had demanded a nine percent pay rise, in line with the RPI inflation rate in April when negotiations began. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Quorn is a successful business that pays its chief executive Marco Bertacca a huge wage – it can afford to give our members a reasonable pay rise and needs to do so.   

‘Social responsibility’ ​ 

“Quorn is quick to boast that it is an ethical company, but clearly that social responsibility does not extend to ensuring its workers’ wages do not fall behind rising prices. Our Billingham members have Unite’s total backing in their fight for a fair pay rise.” 

Striking workers will include fermenter and chiller technicians, maintenance and laboratory staff and effluent treatment plant staff. Unite claimed the absence of these key workers could lead to shortages of Quorn products in supermarkets.  

‘Quorn’s responsibility’ 

Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown added: “The responsibility for any Quorn product shortages will be the company’s for refusing to put forward a decent rise even though it is not short of money. A pay deal our members can accept needs to be tabled.” 

A Quorn spokesman said: "We are aware of the potential industrial action at our manufacturing site in Billingham, and through ongoing discussions with our employees and their union, we hope to reach a resolution."

Meanwhile, last month saw a total of 1,900 workers at the port of Felixstowe, all members of Unite, begin eight days of strikes on 21 August ending on 29 August.​ 

The union said talks with ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) had failed to reach a 'satisfactory conclusion' after the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company did not improve on its offer of a 7% pay increase. The union said this was 'significantly below' the real (RPI) inflation rate of 11.8%. Previously the company had offered a pay rise of 5%. 

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