Who Will Give in First? Costs Rise as Earthgrains Dispute Rumbles on
A strike against the Earthgrains Company, the second-largest US wholesale baker, by Alabama members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) has moved into its fourth week. Pressure is increasing on both management and workers to settle the dispute, which has spread to disrupt baking or deliveries at 26 of the company's 66 US plants (of which 58 are unionised). Earthgrains' plants in France, Portugal and Spain have not been affected. Although most of the plants have continued to operate with managers and temporary workers, food industry analysts are speculating the company has begun to accumulate added costs of overtime, temporary workers, travel and expenses for relocated employees, security guards, legal counsel and for extra shipping costs to buy products from outside suppliers. It also faces lost sales to competitors. Although first-hand information is lacking, the analysts also speculate the striking workers will be under increasing financial pressure to consider returning to work. Relatively low-paid bakery workers may find it difficult to live without paycheques for an extended period, said another analyst who believes the strike will hurt workers more than the company.
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