Around 180 members of trade union Unite started the industrial action on 28 August 2023, with the first round set to end on 31 August.
Members of the union voted to go on strike after rejecting a new pay offer of £10.90 per hour from Brown Brothers. Workers will engage in three separate rounds of three-day strikes over the next three weeks.
Brown Brothers, part of the Browns Food Group, specialises in the production and manufacturing of cooked and sliced meats, employing 550 members of staff at the Kelloholm facility.
‘Workers unable to make ends meet’
“Unite’s members at Browns have emphatically rejected a poverty pay offer,” said Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, after strike action was announced.
“The Browns Food Group, which owns the Kelloholm factory, is cash rich. It can well afford to give its workers a far bigger slice of the tens of millions it has sitting in the bank. Unite will always support our members fighting back for decent jobs, pay and conditions.”
Unite industrial officer Paul Bennett added that the pay offer from Brown Brothers was not enough for members to “make ends meet”.
“The company is in a very healthy financial position due to the hard work of our members, so it’s scandalous that they are treating the workforce with such contempt,” said Bennett.
“Strike action will take place over a number of weeks and Browns should be under no illusion as to the determination of our members to secure a fair pay deal.”
Consequences for Brown Brothers, employees and customers
In response to the start of strike action on 28 August, Brown Brothers issued a statement outlining its position.
The manufacturer said that Unite had initially requested a 33% pay increase from £9.75 per hour to £13 per hour. The final offer by Brown Brothers was to move all employees over 18 years old to £10.90 per hour, equal to the real living wage, representing an 11.8% pay increase.
“We agreed that we would back date this to 1 April 2023, in addition we will then pay the 2024/25 real living wage from April next year,” said a Brown Brothers spokesperson.
“Over time rates apply over 35 hours Monday to Saturday would be £16.35 and on Sunday shift for overtime pays £21.80.”
With three weeks of industrial action now underway, the spokesperson said this would “have consequences to the business, employees and customer base".
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