Pay dispute may result in strike action

STAFF at one of Suffolk's biggest employers have threatened strike action over unresolved pay disputes and pension cuts.Concerns over the working practices at Grampian Country Foods - which has a factory in Haverhill - will lead to a strike ballot of over 2,000 members of the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G).

STAFF at one of Suffolk's biggest employers have threatened strike action over unresolved pay disputes and pension cuts.

Concerns over the working practices at Grampian Country Foods - which has a factory in Haverhill - will lead to a strike ballot of over 2,000 members of the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G).

Union leaders last night also hinted at the possibility of protests being staged outside selected supermarkets which are supplied by the firm - including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer - if a strike goes ahead.

“This should not come as a shock to Grampian. We have warned the directors that unless they got a grip of what was happening at their various plants we would go down this route,” said Chris Kaufman, the union's national secretary for food and agriculture.


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T&G representatives now plan to meet shop stewards from Grampian Country Foods sites later this week following resounding support for a full strike vote, with 75% of workers voting 'yes' in a consultation exercise, where 70% of union members took part.

There was, Mr Kaufman added, growing anger at a national policy of a pay freeze which had already led to localised strikes in North Wales, and at plans to cut pension benefits by 10%.

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Union stewards have also highlighted concerns over a lack of equality between workers following reports that agency staff - which can make up to around 40% of staff in off-peak periods - do not get the same treatment as the permanent workforce.

Mr Kaufman said: “We have tried all the different paths to peace to resolve these issues but our protests have been met with prevarication.”

The action comes less than a year after 400 workers lost their jobs after the firm closed a factory in Elmswell.

Alasdair Cox, head of PR and external affairs at the Grampian Country Food Group, said the firm was “disappointed” to learn of the union's announcement.

“Over recent months the company has been in regular contact at both local and national level with the union to discuss the issues the business is currently facing,” he said.

“The company is operating in an increasingly competitive marketplace with a growing regulatory burden adding significant cost and steps have to be taken to ensure that the business continues to remain viable and competitive within this increasingly global industry.”

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