Further strikes at Vion averted as Unite climbs down

04 April, 2012

Ten days of strikes, which had been planned for the Vion Cambuslang added-value products plant, have been averted after the company came to a deal with union Unite.

Vion confirmed that the industrial action had been averted, bringing to an end the long-running dispute over pay negotitions.

A Vion spokesman said: “Following discussion between Vion and Unite, industrial action has been lifted and the original offer accepted.”

In October, workers at the South Lanarkshire site rejected a 2% pay increase and changes to holiday entitlement, and subsequently voted in favour of strike action. Around 300 staff walked out on 20 February and were due to strike again on Thursday 8 March and 12 March, although this was postponed after Vion lost a contract to supply chicken products to Sainsbury's.

The decision is a major climb down for Unite, which had today announced a series of 24-hour strikes at the troubled site, and accused the producer of “spurning” efforts to reach a negotiated settlement.

Unite Convenor at Vion Scot Walker had said that the union had repeatedly sought to engage with the company, but that it had no interest in negotiating.

He said “This is a low-pay sector of the economy; the basic wage is less than £7 an hour, but Vion is a global food processing giant with a turnover of nearly €9bn.

“In this harsh economic climate, taking industrial action is the last thing we want to do but the workers can’t keep accepting real-term pay cuts with families and households to sustain – they’ve chosen to fight back.”

However, the original offer has now been accepted.

Shortly before announcing the end of the industrial action, Vion denied it had spurned negotiations, saying it had been disappointed by the response from the union, as the company had presented a very fair and reasonable proposal, especially given the current challenging economic climate.

The 24-hour strikes had been planned to take place throughout April and May, on key production dates, along with an overtime ban and work-to-rule throughout the period, from Thursday 5 April until Monday 14 May 2012.

Walker previously told MTJ that the two strikes planned in March were postponed to allow the union to  assess the situation following Sainsbury’s decision to consolidate its poultry supply, with Vion no longer supplying chicken product to the supermarket. He said that Cambuslang would be directly affected by the loss of Sainsbury’s poultry contract, which will come to an end in February 2013, as it accounted for around 40% of the operations at the factory. Cambuslang also produces products for contracts with The Co-operative and Marks & Spencer.

>Vion loses Sainsbury's chicken contract

>Industrial action over pay postponed at Vion plant

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