Cepac strike extended, up to 61 jobs now at risk

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

More than 90 workers at a Cepac plant in Darlington are on strike. Getty / slobo
More than 90 workers at a Cepac plant in Darlington are on strike. Getty / slobo

Related tags strike Packaging and labeling

Strikes at the food and drink packaging manufacturer in Darlington have been extended by two weeks.

More than 90 members of staff at a Cepac plant will now strike continuously until 25 September 2023.

The strike was initially planned to run four weeks from 14 August​, but trade union Unite has now given notice of a further two weeks of industrial action. It said that the added strike days are in response to a failure on the part of Cepac to engage in meaningful negotiations.

Strike action began following an offer of an 8% pay increase, which Unite said was below the true inflation rate and was subject to conditions including longer hours, lower overtime rates and a change in shift patterns.

Cepac produces corrugated packaging for clients such as Mars, Carlsberg, Innocent, Pernod, C&D Foods Group and Diageo. Headquartered in Rotherham, with locations in Rawcliffe, Doncaster and Darlington, the firm also supplies foodservice brands Greggs, Costa Coffee, Subway and Pret a Manger.

‘Growing packaging crisis’

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham described the actions of Cepac as “all about greed​”, after the additional two weeks of strike action were announced.

This is a company that can make a fair pay offer but is attempting to boost its profits by making its employees work longer and under worse conditions​,” Graham said.

Meanwhile, Unite regional officer Pat McCourt added: “Consumers across the UK are becoming increasingly alarmed that they will struggle to purchase their favourite food and drink due to the growing packaging crisis. This dispute is exclusively of Cepac’s own making, the company pay offer along with the changes to terms and conditions would actually make our members worse off​.”

Up to 61 jobs now at threat

Cepac managing director, Steve Moss, said that the strike has reduced the company’s orders and puts future orders at serious risk. As a result, the company has initiated a redundancy consultation at the site, with the potential loss of up to 61 jobs.

“The company had repeatedly presented alternatives to Unite, who continued to fail to fully and realistically engage with the Company on what was our full and final offer," ​said Moss.

"As a result, collective bargaining has come to an end, and we have made our last offer direct to our employees. Contrary to recent, and characteristically inaccurate, press releases from Unite the offer is a generous and realistic one, positioning the business for investment, transformation and growth, away from its traditional and declining markets and into growth areas of volume, sustainable packaging.

In other news, Food Manufacture spoke to Frugalpac about its plan to replace glass wine and spirit bottles with a more sustainable option​.

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