Easter strike at Grampian

Strike action by 2,500 food workers across Grampian Foods could disrupt pork and poultry supplies to supermarkets over Easter.

The 24 hour strike is due to start at 6am on Thursday, and the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) confirmed that 57% have backed the action in disputes over pay freezes and pension cuts at one of the UK's largest food processors.

"Thus result was inevitable after Grampian had first prevaricated on the issues and then failed to use the time we offered when the T&G suspended the ballot to enter into meaningful talks," said Chris Kaufman, T&G national secretary for food and agriculture. "They will now reap in strike action what they sowed in inactivity.

Kaufman said there was anger at what appeared to be a national policy of a pay freeze which had been compounded by mixed messages from management. This had already led to localised strikes in North Wales.

Further bitterness had been caused by a letter to the workforce, which spelt out a plan to cut pension benefits by 10%. Kaufman described this as deeply unsatisfactory as the union felt there had been no meaningful and formal consultation on the proposal.

There was also concern that agency staff being used across the company do not get the same treatment as permanent staff.

"Grampian is worth many millions but it will only cost them £3m to settle this dispute," added. Kaufman.

A spokesman for Grampian Country Food Group said it was very disappointed that, following several meetings at both national and local level, the Transport and General Workers Union have taken the decision to take industrial action at a number of sites. Every effort has been undertaken by local management to reach a resolution with the Union however, this has been unsuccessful.

"Of the 2,500 T&G members, only 18% have indicated that they would be in favour of industrial action which may result in a one day strike. To put this into context, the sites in question employ in excess of 5,100 people, of which only 465 are in favour of strike action."

"We are confident that the impact on our business will be minimal and will be managed without any disruption to the supply of our products to our customer base," he added.

Grampian supplies the big four supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons, as well as Marks and Spencer with various poultry and pork products.

The ballot covered Grampian Foods and its related company sites in Haverhill in Cambridgeshire, Eye and Stoke Ferry in Suffolk, Witham in Essex, Wivelscombe in Somerset, Llangefni, Sandycroft and Anglesey in North Wales, Cambuslang near Glasgow, Coupar Angus in Perthshire and Fairview near Edinburgh.

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