Greencore’s blatant disregard of employment tribunal rulings has forced 500 of its workers in Hull to take strike action on Wednesday (30 January) to reverse wage cuts of up to £2,000-a-year, Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said.
But tomorrow (Tuesday, 29 January) in Dublin, the company’s CEO Patrick Coveney will be seeking to inveigle the shareholders’ annual meeting to give him an enhanced 1.7 million euros pay package so he can enjoy ‘a millionaire’s lifestyle’.
The workers will be taking 24-hour strike action beginning at 05.00 hours on Wednesday until 04:59 hours on Thursday at the Greencore plant, Amsterdam Road, Hull HU7 0XF.
The dispute centres on the workers’ fight to claw back pay after attacks on their employment conditions have seen them lose up to £40-a-week from their already very low wages.
The workers voted overwhelmingly to take action, angered by the company's breach of promise to restore cuts in terms made in October 2011. Last year, Greencore was forced by a tribunal to reverse the £1.2 million raid on the workers' wages – however, dodging the court's ruling, the company simply issued new contracts to the workforce.
Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said, in a letter to Patrick Coveney, today: “There have now been a number of employment tribunal hearings which each time have found in favour of Unite, yet still management refuse to listen and instead, their only response has been to unilaterally amend contracts of employment.
“This has had the effect of making poverty pay and conditions permanent, despite breaching previous agreements and also despite being a clear breach of the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code.
“To make matters worse, our members have seen the recent press reports that at tomorrow’s AGM you will be seeking even greater bonuses for yourself and fellow directors, despite already receiving remuneration packages worth millions.
“I would urge you to intervene with local management and persuade them to do the right thing for those workers whose hard work and loyalty contribute to the profits that allow you to live a millionaire lifestyle.
“Greencore must recognise that forcing workers into a daily struggle to support their families is not an acceptable way to build a sustainable business.”
This is the first-ever strike at the Hull site and will hit production of favourite cake products, including the novelty and celebration cakes carried in supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's. Unite said that Greencore is already making handsome profits - £70 million across the group generated last year.
For further information please contact Jennie Formby on 07702 206 436 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.