Workers at the 2 Sisters owned Pizza Factory in Nottingham started voting yesterday (Monday 23 May) on possible strike action in a dispute over an outstanding pay claim for 2015.
Unite, Britain biggest union, which is balloting 440 members on the site, has accused the company of trying to bully staff into signing away their terms and conditions in exchange for a non-negotiated pay deal, in a blatant attempt to undermine the union’s legitimate industrial action ballot.
Workers were left distraught after they were pulled into a ‘pay brief’ with senior management when the union official was off site and told of the company’s plans to slash overtime, weekend working, bank holiday and sickness cover pay rates in a move which could cost them hundreds of pounds a month.
Unite understands that 2 Sisters is planning to cut overtime, weekend and holiday pay and make changes to shift patterns to offset the costs of the government’s new ‘national living wage’.
Unite has told the company in no uncertain terms that any changes to workers’ terms and conditions will need to be negotiated separately from the pay deal which is now 10 months overdue.
Unite regional officer Andy Shaw said: “2 Sisters management has behaved appallingly towards its loyal workforce, stoking up fear and damaging industrial relations without good reason.
“Unite submitted its pay claim back in September, seeking a modest 3.1 per cent pay increase, but rather than honour the annual pay anniversary the company has been refusing to negotiate.
“Sadly the company has form having delayed making a decision on the 2014 pay award by nearly a year.
“The company had no right pulling our members into a ‘pay brief’ at such short notice. Our members were left deeply shaken after being threatened with the ultimatum of accept cuts to your conditions or risk losing your job.
“It is no way to treat a loyal and hardworking workforce. Our members work around the clock making pizzas 24/7 for some of the country’s biggest supermarket chains, including Tesco and Marks & Spencer.
“Any attempts to cut workers’ overtime, holiday and weekend pay to offset the government’s new ‘national living wage’ or to impose changes without negotiating with the workers’ union will be strenuously challenged by Unite.
“Workers’ patience is wearing thin, 2 Sisters management needs to stop bullying its staff and start negotiating a fair, no strings attached, pay deal for 2015. We are prepared to negotiate changes to conditions separately.”
Unite, which represents all levels of the production team including factory, site, food, hygiene and bakery operatives submitted its pay claim back in September 2015 seeking a 3.1 per cent pay increase.
The industrial action ballot opened on Monday 23 May and closes on Monday 6 June.
For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey