Top boss’ pay sours Oxfordshire choc workers’ dispute

Top boss’ pay sours Oxfordshire choc workers’ dispute

25 September 2012
Members of Unite, Britain’s biggest union, working for the global chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut, on strike today (Tuesday 25 September) have vowed to step up their fight for a fair pay deal, as the company’s profits and top boss’ pay soars.

The dispute has been soured by the knowledge that the top director’s pay increased by 79 per cent in 2011, while the 108 members of Unite have been offered a paltry 1.5 per cent.

Despite a 13.3 per cent jump in profits for 2011, the leading manufacturer of chocolate products, which supplies cocoa pellets to some of the world’s biggest confectionary companies - including Kraft, Cadbury (now owned by Kraft), Nestle and Hershey - has refused to increase its pay offer of just 1.5 per cent.

Unite is calling on the company to explain how the top director’s pay shot up by 79 per cent in 2011, while the union’s demand for a fair pay increase has been rejected.

Workers at the Banbury site in Oxfordshire have held two 24 hour walk outs, with a further two 48 hour stoppages planned for Friday 28 September and Monday 1 October, in the dispute over pay. The strike is solid, with staff vowing to continue the action until a deal is reached.

Attempts to settle the long-running dispute have been thwarted at every turn by management at the Banbury site, who have not only failed to match the two per cent pay increase offered to workers at the company’s other site, but also to engage in meaningful talks with the union.

Mick Polleck, Unite regional officer, said: “Profits are up, but instead of awarding the loyal workforce with a fair pay deal, the company is dragging its heels and refusing to negotiate. 

“With the top boss pocketing a whopping 79 per cent pay rise for 2011 and other workers getting a two per cent pay rise, it is little wonder that our members’ patience has run out. They have vowed to fight until they get a pay deal that reflects the contribution they have made to the company’s success.

“Managers must stop hoarding the riches and give our members their fair share. With the company’s profits up by 13 per cent for 2011, a better pay offer is easily within its reach.

“Instead of working towards a solution, the company has threatened not to pay any back pay unless the workforce accept the deal before the end of the year. This type of intimidation must stop.

“Unite is ready to negotiate, but it takes two. We are ready to get around the table or involve Acas to settle this dispute. The ball is in Barry Callebaut’s court.”

Barry Callebaut makes chocolate pellets from raw cocoa and supplies most of the UK’s major chocolate manufacturers.

Staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action with a ‘yes’ vote of 91.6 per cent in favour. Management have been called in over the weekend to cover for the 108 striking workers.


Notes to editors: Workers at Barry Callebaut, Banbury strike action:
Saturday 22 September from 7am for 24 hours;
Monday 24 September for 24 hours.
Two further 48 hours stoppages are set for:
Friday 28 September and Monday 1 October, both starting at 7am.

Barry Callebaut Banbury is on Wildmere Road Industrial Estate, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 3UU.

For further information contact Mick Pollek, Unite regional official, on 07711 057119 or Chantal Chegrinec, Unite communications officer, on  07774 146 777

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