Weetabix workers in Burton Latimer and Corby could strike over 'disgraceful' fire and rehire plan

A union says a strike could mean shortages of Weetabix this summer

Monday, 24th May 2021, 3:51 pm
Weetabix, Burton Latimer.

Workers at Weetabix's Burton Latimer and Corby factories could strike next month over 'fire and rehire' plans which would see their pay slashed.

Some engineers are in dispute with the cereal giant after they were given new contracts and work patterns, which will result in major cuts in shift allowances.

There will also be a move to require more day working than shift working, further contributing to the cut in pay. Trade union Unite say some affected engineers will lose up to £5,000 a year.

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They say that there are also major concerns about the health and safety of the workers at the plants, due to the low number of engineers who will now be on duty at certain times.

Weetabix say they have been consulting with employees and union representatives to implement new ways of working.

But Unite regional officer Sean Kettle said: “Unite will not sit idly by and allow our members to be fired and rehired.

“Our members play an essential role in keeping the Weetabix plants operating and to treat them in such an offhand manner in order to simply boost profits is disgraceful.

“If a strike occurs it will undoubtedly disrupt the production of Weetabix and result in shortages in the shops.

"The solution is in Weetabix’s hands. They need to withdraw the threat to fire and rehire our members and return to the negotiating table.”

The ballot for strike action opens on Thursday (May 27) and closes the following Thursday (June 3).

If workers vote for strike action then stoppages will begin later next month.

Unite say that if workers strike there will "undoubtedly" be disruption which would lead to a shortage of Weetabix in the shops.

Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands, Paresh Patel, said: “Unite’s members have continued to work throughout the pandemic, risking their own health and that of their families, in order to ensure customers continue to receive their Weetabix.

“Any decent company would be paying their workers a bonus in recognition of their commitment and sacrifice, rather than attempt to slash their wages.”

A Weetabix Food Company spokesman said they had shared bonuses with their teams and that they had been in 'close consultation' about changes to contracts and work patterns.

The spokesman said: "For nearly 90 years we have worked hard at Weetabix to remain competitive in our marketplace, and we have a responsibility to all of our teams to continue to do so.

"As part of our ongoing change programme, we have been in close consultation with our employees and their local union representatives to implement new ways of working.

"We are proud to have recognised the efforts of all of our teams in keeping our factories open throughout the challenges of the last year and we were very happy to be able to share two discretionary bonuses with our manufacturing teams during that time."