Nestle makes Kit Kats at its York site

Nestle makes Kit Kats at its York site

Nestle workers across the UK are being balloted on industrial action in a national dispute over a pay freeze.

The GMB, one of the unions representing Nestle workers, told just-food today (6 April) that the firm had recently rejected a claim for a 2.5% pay increase, insisting that 0% would be offered for 2010.

Alan Black, a spokesperson for the GMB, said a ballot is now taking place to begin a process of possible industrial action.

“Nestle in the UK bargain at plant level in theory but late last year they announced that they were of the view that there should be no pay increase in 2010. That cuts right across the idea of each plant finding its own destiny on whether it’s profitable or not profitable,” Black told just-food.

“You can’t have local bargaining and a blanket decision as to whether to implement a pay freeze. We pointed this out to them and they said, no there’s not actually a pay freeze, it’s just that at each factory 0% will be offered. Well that sounds to me remarkably like a pay freeze,” he insisted.

He added that Nestle were “jumping on the recession bandwagon”, despite being a profitable company.

“The claims that were put in were very modest, which given the profitability of the company is a very modest aspiration indeed. They’re just jumping on the recession bandwagon.

"[Nestle] is a very very very profitable company and they are paying huge amounts of money back to their shareholders this year so they’re certainly not short of a few Swiss francs. It’s not a significant amount of money and they’re trying to impose a pay freeze on the people that generated the money."

He added that negotiations at three plants in York, Newcastle and Scotland had been “exhausted” and that it was now balloting all of its Nestle members across the UK for possible industrial action.

“Because we actually believe that there is a national policy within the company to have a pay freeze, we are balloting all of our members across the country, whichever plant they work in, saying to them, if there has not already been, there will be a pay freeze imposed on you, do you want a ballot for industrial action to oppose this,” Black said.

The ballot, the GMB said, will close within the next few weeks and a decision on industrial action is expected to be made by 23 April.

A Nestle spokesperson said: "The company will make every effort to continue the discussions through the formal channels."