Over 400 workers at Greencore - a key supplier of cakes and desserts to Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Waitrose - will receive a share of up to £1.2 million, after Unite won a successful employment tribunal on behalf of the workers against the company.
In 2010 the workers agreed to temporarily suspend premium pay rates and enhanced holiday pay rates from June 2010 to October 2011 in order to help the company during difficult trading conditions.
But the company refused to revert back to the workers’ original terms of employment after the deadline had passed. As a result, the workers raised a group action for the unlawful deduction of wages.
Unite accused Greencore in Hull of impoverishing its workers by refusing to reinstate the payments when the majority were on the national minimum wage. The company told the media back in July it "strongly refutes any suggestion that it has contravened employment law at any stage during the course of this process”. Unite waged a high profile campaign for at least six months to deliver justice for the workforce at Greencore.
Unite national officer, Jennie Formby, said: “It's great news that the workers at this cake and dessert supplier to the country's best known supermarkets eventually got justice. This situation could have been avoided, if Greencore had listened to the union and adhered to some basic ethical principles.
"Unite was not going to allow Greencore to break the law, attack union rights and the terms and conditions of the lowest paid workers in society. Many of these workers had to survive on poverty wages since management changed the terms, then broke its promise even though the Greencore group is extremely profitable.
“However, this isn’t the end of the matter and our members are now discussing next steps in the union campaign to restore fairness to the contracts of employment that were unilaterally and unfairly changed by Greencore after Unite pledged to mount this legal challenge.”
Greencore is a manufacturer of convenience foods. It has 22 convenience foods manufacturing sites in the UK and the US; and employs in the region of 11,000 people. Unite represents thousands of workers at Greencore sites across the UK. The union's campaign related to the company's cakes and desserts supplier in Hull.
The workers are still waiting for their remedy hearing to determine how much money they will received, but it is estimated that the value of the claims totals £1.2 million.
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
- 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.