Jacobs-making factory staff have threatened strike action as United Biscuits suspends sick-pay at the factory

Jacob's-making factory staff have threatened strike action as United Biscuits suspends sick-pay at the factory

A threatened staff strike at United Biscuits' facility in Liverpool arising from a dispute over worker terms and conditions has resulted in the UK snacks maker temporarily halting sick pay.

In a ballot of 800 workers at the Jacob's Biscuit-making factory in Aintree, 84% voted in favour of action in a dispute over "imposed changes to to terms and conditions of employment," - though no specific detail of what the changes involved was given.

GMB said it had "held back" from notifying United Biscuits of dates for strike action "to allow time to engage in further discussion to resolve the issues in dispute".

However, since a meeting on 5 November, United Biscuits has allegedly issued a letter to staff to Aintree employees "unilaterally suspending company sick pay with immediate effect" and advising the workforce that they are looking to source the products manufactured at the Aintree site elsewhere", claimed Stuart Fegan, the GMB's national officer for the food manufacturing industry.

The GMB said the letter was a "a deliberate move to inflame the dispute".

Speaking to just-food today, a spokesperson for United Biscuits said: "In response to record levels of absenteeism, with regret, we were forced to temporarily suspend company sick pay at the factory. We have confirmed that anyone on long term absence will continue to be paid, and all cases will be reviewed on a case-case basis."

United Biscuits added it felt it had "no alternative" and, while yet to be served an official notice of strike action, it is "open to further talks".

"Suffice to say we are still hopeful that further discussions will lead to a positive outcome," added the spokesperson.

United Biscuits, set to be taken over by Turkish food group Yildiz Holding, did not comment on whether there were plans to move Aintree's production to other sites and "possibly overseas" as claimed by the GMB.