A Quorn Foods ‘pay beef’ at its Teesside meat-free paste production factory risks shortages of the company’s products in supermarket aisles, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Tuesday 26 January). 

A series of discontinuous strikes at the Billingham factory of Marlow Foods Limited, which trades under Quorn Foods, will begin on 5 February and conclude on 13 February, with continuous strike action planned from 14 February if the dispute is not resolved. Socially distanced picket lines will be held outside of the factory’s entrance. 

Unite said ‘it is well known that many of Quorn’s customers do not like beef and they, and the supermarkets, will not be happy if there are shortages of the company’s meat-free alternatives’.

More than 60 production workers, including lab, maintenance, electricians and stores staff, will take part in the strike action, as well as an overtime ban commencing on 1 February. The dispute is over a ‘paltry’ two per cent pay offer that does not reflect their efforts in ensuring the profitable company’s growth during the pandemic. 

Quorn has stated that it saw retail demand for meat-free food increase during 2020. According to its latest financial report, submitted in December 2019, the company had a turnover of £230 million, with a gross profit of £81 million. 

Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown said: “Quorn Foods' paltry two per cent pay offer does not reflect the hard work and dedication shown by its Billingham site workers during the pandemic. Despite Quorn’s continued success throughout the lockdowns, in large part thanks to staff, the company is refusing to acknowledge the workforce’s contributions.

“The company’s continued tightfistedness has turned what should have been a sensible negotiation into a full on pay beef with staff. It is well known that many of Quorn’s customers do not like beef and they, and the supermarkets, will not be happy if there are shortages of the company’s meat-free alternatives on the shelves.

“The company’s workforce is well aware that Quorn can afford to table a pay offer that reflects their hard work during the crisis and will not back down until that happens. There is still time to avoid industrial action and Unite calls on the company’s management to get back round the negotiating table with an offer our members can accept.” 

ENDS 

Quorn Foods staff at the company’s Billingham factory will take discontinuous strike action on the following times and dates: 

5 February commencing at 19.00 hrs to 07.00 hrs on 6 February  

6 February commencing at 07.00 hrs to 19.00 hrs on 6 February 

6 February commencing at 19.00 hrs to 07.00 hrs on 7 February 

11 February commencing at 19.00 hrs to 07.00 hrs on 12 February

12 February commencing at 07.00 hrs to 19.00 hrs on 12 February 

12 February commencing at 19.00 hrs to 07.00 hrs on 13 February 

A discontinuous overtime ban will also begin on 1 February at 07.00 hrs, with continuous strike action planned from 14 February if the dispute is not resolved.  

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.
 
For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.
 
Email: [email protected]
 
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.