UK union Unite has said staff at Bakkavor‘s Spalding plant are “angry” after the convenience food manufacturer began a 90-day consultation to lower the pay of workers in some of its pay bands.

Bakkavor plans to cut hourly rates for workers in its lower two pay bands, while raising the rate for workers at the upper end of the scale.

Unite representative Andy Shaw told just-food today (8 April) that the union opposes the cuts “vehemently” will be “seeking to address” the proposed changes. Under the proposal, Shaw said that that E Grade workers will see their pay drop from GBP7.24 (US$11.8) to GBP6.59 an hour, while Grade D workers would see their pay fall from GBP7.44 an hour to GBP6.88.

Shaw said that Bakkavor’s reasoning for the changes are that current pay bands offer a “narrow banding” with “very little incentive for workers to progress”. He added that Bakkavor said that when it benchmarked its top graded workers against its competitors, “it’s not such an attractive place to work against its competitors”.

Additionally, he said that the company feels that its C-E grade workers are paid “fairly well” for the work that they do, hence the proposal.

Shaw said that he understands that around 117 workers will be positively affected, while 380 workers will be negatively affected.

“It talks about being an employer of choice and offering stable earnings all year round, but we’ve said clearly yesterday that statement is thrown in the face of by the recent announcement,” said Shaw, adding that workers are in dark, cold, noisy workspaces.

A spokesperson for Bakkavor told just-food that the last collective agreement on terms was made 11 years ago at the site. The company said that it has recognised that its pay rates rare not in line with its perers in the industry and that some roles need to be restructured to reflect the operational changes made over time.

“We recognise that these proposals, if implemented, will be unsettling for those affected at the site. However, the business believes that the proposals will support the business in delivering its long-term plan for achieving a sustainable future,” the spokesperson added.