Dismissal notices for Banbury coffee workers over ‘fire and rehire’ plans branded as ‘corporate gangsterism’ by Unite
- Wednesday 2 June 2021
The decision by JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) in Banbury to issue dismissal notices today (Wednesday 2 June) to workers refusing to sign new contracts, which could mean some of them losing up to £12,000 a year, has been branded ‘corporate gangsterism’ by Unite the union.
Unite said that it would be escalating industrial action with four new strike days at the Ruscote Avenue site after the company said those employees, who didn’t sign up by 17 May to the new contracts, will be issued with 12 weeks’ notice, effective from 7 June.
The new strikes will run from 07.00 on Saturday (5 June) until 07.00 Sunday (6 June); from 06:00 Thursday 10 June until 07:00 Friday 11 June; from 07:00 Sunday 13 June until 07:00 Monday 14 June; and from 06:00 on Wednesday 16 June until 07:00 Thursday 17 June.
Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: “The company has today announced its notice to dismiss the entire workforce by using unscrupulous ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.
“This move comes on the back of an unprecedented level of commitment by our members throughout the Covid crisis keeping the nation supplied with coffee, as demand soared by an estimated 40 per cent.
“We can only describe the company’s greed-driven approach as a result of a culture of corporate gangsterism by this highly profitable Dutch-owned company.
“We will now escalate strike action in the weeks ahead until the company withdraws these notices and enters into constructive dialogue with Unite to chart a way forward that does not cause economic and social havoc to Banbury and the wider economy.
“We strongly dispute JDE’s claim that half of the affected workers will be £4,000 better off on average – we stand by our position that the new contracts could see some of our members lose up to £12,000 a year in pay – and, in some cases, their homes.”
Unite represents the 291 workers under threat and, so far, there has been a 72 hour strike and two 24 hour strikes, as well as a continuous over time ban that has been in place since 1 May.
The union is running a national campaign to get the government to outlaw the practice, in line with other competitor countries, to give UK workers protection. A recent Survation poll for Unite found seven in 10 want the practice banned.
Unite assistant general secretary for politics and legal, Howard Beckett, said: “It's quite clear that the public is firmly on the side of working people when it comes to the horrific practice of fire and rehire.
"There is no grey area here. They see that this is an objectionable practice that should be banned. The government has to get on the same page as voters on this and fast."
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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.