Bakkavor food manufacturing workers to strike

Sainsbury, Tesco and M&S Xmas supplies hit by Lincolnshire factory poverty pay strikes

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More than 700 workers at Bakkavor’s food manufacturing factory in Spalding, Lincolnshire, will strike from late November until the New Year over poverty pay, Unite said this week.

Many of the workers earn just 1p over the national minimum wage with some being forced to use food banks. In March, Bakkavor announced that its adjusted operating profits for 2021 had increased by 22 per cent to £102 million.

The production line operatives, who make own brand soups, sauces and deli produce for Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and M&S, have rejected a 6.5 per cent pay offer. This is a substantial pay cut when the real rate of inflation, RPI, stands at 14.2 per cent.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “The situation these workers face is exactly what is wrong with Britain’s economy today: A company earning millions and millions in profits expecting already low paid workers to take a pay cut while prices soar. Unite will not tolerate attacks on our members’ jobs, pay or conditions and our Bakkavor members have the union’s complete backing as they strike for a better deal.”

The strikes, which begin on 25 November and will last until 2 January, will impact own brand food products for Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and M&S. More strikes will be scheduled if the dispute is not resolved.

Strikes were due to take place in early November but were postponed to allow for an amended pay offer to be voted on. The workforce overwhelmingly rejected the offer and negotiations between Unite and Bakkavor have since collapsed.

Unite regional officer Ravinder Assi added, “Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and M&S all have a case to answer if they do not pressure Bakkavor to use some of its massive profits to give these workers a proper pay rise. Supermarket customers will be appalled to know that the own-brand goods they are buying are made by supply chain workers who are being treated so disgracefully. Bakkavor can well afford to put forward an offer our members can accept and needs to do so.”

By Ryan Fletcher