Employees at Molson Coors in Burton-on-Trent are being balloted on strike action, as the 455-strong workforce face being sacked after 14 June and reinstated on inferior pay and conditions.
Unite, the country’s largest union, said its members would be asked to vote for strike action in the dispute over the management’s package of proposals which includes axing the wages of 184 brewery technicians and 41 operatives by up to £9,000-a-year.
Unite said that it had given the management seven days notice of the ballot which runs from 30 April to 28 May. A mass meeting of Unite members is being held at Burton town hall at 18.30 tonight (Monday 22 April).
Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said: “Our members, the vast majority of the workforce, are very angry at the hardline attitude of the management which could mean they are sacked and then re-employed on inferior contracts.
“The 90-day consultation period on these proposals ends on 14 June. Members will then be subject to individual consultations and face being sacked and re-engaged. This could be done between then and the end of the year.
“Unite wants an equable and fair settlement with the management of this very profitable company and is ready for constructive negotiations. However, the management’s stance has meant our members voting on strike action, given the atmosphere of duress and threat to their livelihoods.”
One of the key issues is that employees have been given notice of radical new shift patterns with 30 days annual leave - leaving 335 days either working, or at home and contactable to come into work at 23 hours notice.
Rick Coyle added: “The company has confirmed it also requires workers to be contactable during annual leave.
“Our legal team believes this is a denial of our members’ right to a private and family life which exists under the Human Rights Act. In other words, workers will either be working, or available to work or be contacted, 100 per cent of the time, at any time of day or night.”
Unite said that what this new shift system means, in reality, is that not everyone will be able to have an annual two-week holiday, because workers will be rung up and asked to come even when they are on leave.
The Burton plant produces Carling, Grolsch, Coors Lite and Cobra lagers, as well as beers including Worthington, White Shield and Stones.
For further information please contact Rick Coyle on 07711 594314 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.