Food and drink packaging shortages as workers strike for two weeks 

UK food and drink producers are facing packaging shortages as workers at Darlington print firm Cepac escalate pay strikes, Unite, the UK's leading union, said today (Friday).

Intensifying the dispute, over 90 workers will now hold two weeks of all out strikes rather than spread the industrial action across separate days across July, August and September. Further strikes will be announced in the coming days if an improved offer is not put forward. 

The industrial action is a result of the company only being prepared to offer an eight per cent “strings attached” pay increase. The offer is a real terms pay cut with the true rate of inflation (RPI) currently standing at 10.7 per cent.

Cepac has said that the eight per cent increase is dependent on the working week increasing from 37 hours to 40 hours, an inferior sick pay scheme, changes to shift patterns and reduced overtime rates.

Cepac is a profitable company and can afford to improve its offer. The firm’s latest accounts for 2021 lodged at Companies House shows the company made a gross profit of £34 million.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Cepac needs to table a fair pay offer and drop its attempt to cut terms and conditions. This is a profitable company that can well afford to give these workers a reasonable pay rise. Unite is entirely focused on protecting and improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and Cepac’s workforce have the full backing of their union.” 

The workers will strike for two weeks beginning at 0600 hrs on Monday 31 July and ending at 0559 hrs on Monday 14 August.

Cepac produces corrugated packaging. Its clients include: HBCP (whose customers include Greggs, Costa, Subway and Pret) along with C&D Foods Group (whose customers include Aldi, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda). Other Cepac customers include Mars, Carlsberg, Innocent Drinks, Pernod, Lidl, Sainsbury and Diageo.

Unite regional officer Pat McCourt said: Cepac’s clients will not be happy at the disruption these strikes will cause but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making. Cepac needs to put forward an offer our members can accept.”


For media enquires ONLY contact senior Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215 or 020 3371 2065. 

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 Sharon Graham.