Workers at Heinz’s flagship manufacturing site in the UK have voted to strike amid claims that the ketchup maker failed to improve a pay offer characterised by unions as a pay cut in real terms.
Almost 90% of workers at Heinz’s Kitt Green factory in Wigan voted in favour of strike action, Jennie Formby, national officer at the Unite union, said. Formby said “over 900” of the 1,200 staff at the site took part in the ballot.
In October, workers at the Kitt Green facility rejected Heinz’s offer of a one-year 3.3% pay increase back-dated from the spring. Unite says the offer is “below-inflation”; inflation in the UK as measured under the Retail Prices Index stood at 4.5% in October. According to Unite, Heinz has also tabled a pay offer for next year that will see pay rise by 3% or inflation as measured by the RPI – whichever is lower.
“Workers at the factory feel completely let down by Heinz management. They want the opportunity to voice their anger at the way they are being treated and strike action will make the company listen,” Formby said.
“Heinz is no way suffering during the recession, with climbing profits and management flaunting massive bonuses in our members faces, its loyal workforce are told to take a below-inflation pay deal for two years – a pay cut in real terms.”
Formby told just-food that Unite was willing to enter into negotiations with Heinz’s management. “We’ve said throughout this process ‘Let’s sit down and talk constructively’,” Formby said today (7 December).
Workers will meet on Saturday to discuss industrial action. A 24-hour stoppage is expected at the Kitt Green site next week.