Burton Latimer and Corby Weetabix workers to join picket line tomorrow

They're going on strike over an "unjustifiable assault on workers' wages"

Monday, 20th September 2021, 11:15 am
Weetabix, Burton Latimer.

Engineers at Weetabix's Burton Latimer and Corby factories will join picket lines tomorrow (Tuesday) as they go on strike in a row over pay.

The workers, members of trade union Unite, could lose up to £5,000 a year in wages if they accept new terms being offered under what the union says is a 'fire and rehire' programme.

The strike will last for 48 hours and there will be further 48-hour strikes on Tuesdays throughout the autumn, with the final strike scheduled to begin on November 30.

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A picket line will be in place at the Burton Latimer factory from 6.45am with one in Corby from 6am.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members at Weetabix will not accept being fired and rehired. Unite will fight to defend our members affected by this disgraceful practice. It is abhorrent that it is legal for companies, like Weetabix, to issue ‘fire and rehire’ ultimatums to their staff.

“This is a totally unjustifiable assault on workers’ wages and conditions. Last year Weetabix’s profits went up by almost 20 per cent to more than £81m."

Unite say the strikes will cause widespread delays to production and lead to shortages of Weetabix and other popular products made by the factories including Alpen, Weetos and Oatibix, but Weetabix say they are not expecting the strikes to affect their stock availability.

Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel said: “Weetabix could end this dispute by simply withdrawing the attacks on workers’ pay.

“Strike action will inevitably lead to severe disruption of Weetabix’s products but this is entirely of the company’s own makings."

Last month Alpen bar workers at Weetabix's Burton Latimer factory walked out in separate industrial action, called by union Usdaw, in a row about pay.

That dispute has now been settled after Weetabix reinstated a 27.5 per cent shift pay premium and 82 per cent of workers voted to accept the firm's offer.

Unite workers previously called off a strike the day before it was due to take place in June but are now set to strike again after negotiations did not lead to a resolution.

A Weetabix Food Company spokesman said Unite engineers will not face dismissal if they don't sign new contracts.

The spokesman said: "We are sorry to see our engineering team going on strike, but respect their right to do so. Over nearly 90 years we've built a strong relationship with our workforce, and to stay competitive for the next 90 years we need to bring in necessary new ways of working.

“It is unfair and inaccurate to compare this with other disputes that require new contracts to be signed or face dismissal. This is not a choice we're considering at present.

"We remain in close consultation with our engineers and their representatives and are confident that the opportunity still exists to find a resolution that creates future shared success.

“We are not expecting to see any impact on our stock availability as a result of this or future strikes, due to robust planning and a resilient supply chain.”