UK: 2 Sisters union talks fail

By Dean Best | 13 December 2012

2 Sisters defended pay offer and changes to working patterns

2 Sisters defended pay offer and changes to working patterns

Staff at UK firm 2 Sisters Food Group will go on strike tomorrow (14 December) after last-ditch talks between the company and union officials failed.

Workers at two plants will hold industrial action in protest over pay after discussions broke down.

Employees at the sites in Smethwick and Wolverhampton want changes to pay and working conditions.

"Discussions have made good progress on some of the issues, but we remain deadlocked on pay and seven-day day working. Further discussions are welcomed by Unite, however since a settlement is not within view, the dispute will carry on," Des Quinn, regional officer at the Unite union, said today.

Staff have planned two more 24-hour strikes on Tuesday and next Friday. 2 Sisters supplies meat, seafood, chilled and bakery products to UK retailers and Unite claims supplies of chicken to supermarkets will be "hit" in the run-up to Christmas.

2 Sisters insisted it will be able to supply customers from its other sites. The company said it was "disappointed" with the strike action and insisted it had made an "above-inflation" pay offer to staff. It also said it needed new working patterns to serve new contracts.

"We have won additional business with our customers, and need to move to a five-in-seven day working pattern to meet these supply demands. We believe this is a positive signal – demand for our products will help to sustain jobs at these sites and we also have plans to create 500 additional jobs in the West Midlands, but only if we can move to a 5 in 7 day working operation," 2 Sisters said. "Whilst we are disappointed by strike action, we will keep discussions open with Unite."

Quinn said Unite was ready to hold talks with 2 Sisters but insisted the company had to put a "realistic offer on the table".

Sectors: Meat & poultry, Private label

Companies: 2 Sisters Food Group

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