The GMB union has reacted with concern at the news, claiming that workers were being asked agree to changes to existing terms and conditions that could lead to a 30% pay cut and job losses if they don’t accept the proposals. The union said it is seeking legal advice throughout the consultation period.
Chris Aldersely, managing director of the fresh pork division at Cranswick, confirmed that workers were being asked to work fewer hours but wouldn’t specify the percentage pay cut, which is currently under negotiation.
He denied there would be redundancies, and said that the intention was to increase the number of permanent and agency staff in the butchery department by 20-30 people.
“From a business and worker point of view, the restructure will be better, more efficient, more flexible and give us the ability to increase volume, creating a more sustainable future for the business,” said Aldersley.
“We are working with the unions and staff to come to an amicable agreement.”
The upgrade of the butchery department, which was completed earlier this week, is part of an ongoing £20m investment in the Preston plant. In January 2011, the company reopened its processing plant following a £13m upgrade to install robotic technology, which the company says had led to a 50% increase in capacity.
Last year, Cranswick won a US export licence, making it the first British food company to receive American accreditation in more than 15 years.
Earlier this month, the company reported a strong recovery in the second half of the year to the end of 31 March 2012, after suffering from strong raw material price increases early in the financial year.