Cepac print workers to strike

Print workers in Darlington announce 10 days of strike action over pay with food and drink packaging shortage looming

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Food and drink producers across the UK face running out of packaging as workers at Cepac strike in a dispute over pay, Unite said on Wednesday (July 5).

The 90 plus workers, who includes printers, engineers and conversion operatives, have overwhelmingly voted to take industrial action. The first strike will begin on Tuesday, July 18, with further dates spread over the coming weeks until the end of September . Further dates may be announced in the coming weeks if the dispute is not resolved. In addition to the industrial action there will be a continuous overtime ban.

The industrial action is a result of the company only being prepared to offer an eight per cent strings attached pay increase. The offer is a real terms pay cut with the true rate of inflation (RPI) currently standing at 11.3 per cent.

Cepac has said that the eight per cent increase is dependent on the working week increasing from 37 hours to 40 hours, an inferior sick pay scheme, changes to shift patterns and reduced overtime rates.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Cepac has been caught red handed. This is a profitable company refusing to give its workers a decent rise and combining that with a con trick on terms and conditions.

“Unite’s members at Cepac will receive the union’s absolute backing.”

Cepac produces corrugated packaging. Its clients include: HBCP (whose customers include Greggs, Costa, Subway and Pret ) along with C&D Foods Group (whose customers include Aldi, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda). Other Cepac customers include Mars, Carlsberg, Innocent Drinks, Pernod, Lidl, Sainsbury and Diageo.

Cepac is a profitable company. Its latest accounts for 2021 lodged at Companies House shows the company made a gross profit of £34 million.

Unite regional officer Pat McCourt added, “This dispute is entirely of Cepac’s own making. Unite has tried to resolve this issue through negotiation but the company has refused to make a fair offer. The strings attached to the present offer has caused huge resentment among the company’s loyal workforce.

“Cepac needs to stop prevaricating and return to the negotiating table with an offer which meets our members’ expectations.”

By Barckley Sumner