Burton Latimer and Corby Weetabix strike action suspended after 'constructive' talks

The strikes had been due to begin tomorrow
Weetabix, Burton Latimer.Weetabix, Burton Latimer.
Weetabix, Burton Latimer.

A group of engineers at Weetabix's Burton Latimer and Corby factories will no longer go on strike tomorrow (Wednesday) after action was suspended so 'meaningful negotiations' could take place.

About 80 workers who are members of Unite at the company’s sites on the Earlstrees Industrial Estate in Corby and Station Road in Burton Latimer were due to take part in a series of one-day strikes, in protest over a dispute about a 'fire and rehire' policy which would have resulted in some workers suffering substantial pay cuts.

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But after talks between Unite and bosses at the cereal firm today Unite agreed to suspend strike action that was scheduled every Wednesday from tomorrow until September.

In response Weetabix has agreed not to make any changes to the engineers' contracts until at least September 1.

The move to de-escalate the strike action is designed to allow meaningful negotiations to take place.

Unite regional officer Sean Kettle said: “Following constructive talks with Weetabix today Unite has agreed to suspend the strike action which was due to begin tomorrow.

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“The decision to suspend the strikes was in response to Weetabix agreeing to postpone the proposed implementation of the contract changes for our members.

“It is hoped that fresh negotiations will allow a deal to be reached that will be acceptable to our members.”

Unite national officer for food Joe Clarke said: “Constructive and meaningful discussions were held with Weetabix today and as a result it was agreed to suspend the strike action to allow for further dialogue and create the necessary space for both sides to seek a resolution."

Unite say that if the planned negotiations do not lead to a satisfactory resolution of the dispute then renewed strike action could be called later this summer or early this autumn.

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A Weetabix spokesman said: "We are pleased that tomorrow's proposed strike has been suspended and are confident that we can reach a long-term agreement with our employees' representatives.

Our success over nearly 90 years has been built on a strong sense of teamwork, and a mutually agreeable solution on new ways of working will allow us to continue to invest in our people, plants, and products long into the future."

Weetabix had previously issued the engineers with new contracts and work patterns, which would result in major cuts in shift allowances.

There was also a move to require more day working than shift working, further contributing to the cut in pay.

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Some of the affected engineers said they will lose up to £5,000 a year.

Unite said it also has major concerns about health and safety of the workers at both plants due to the low number of engineers who will now be on duty at certain times.

Weetabix later said they were disappointed by the result of the workers' ballot but rebutted union claims that the action could have led to a shortage of popular cereals in the shops.