Jacobs Douwe Egberts coffee workers vote for strike ballot

Banbury coffee workers overwhelmingly vote for strike ballot over ‘fire and rehire’ plans

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Workers at the JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) site in Banbury, Oxfordshire have voted to proceed to an industrial action ballot over plans to ‘fire and rehire’ nearly 300 workers at the coffee factory.

Unite said today (March 15) its members had voted by 96 per cent in a consultative ballot to hold a full-scale industrial action ballot, with the option to strike, in response to the Dutch-owned company issuing notice of dismissal and engagement for 291 employees.

The workers’ anger has been fuelled by the financial results from the multi-national last week which reported ‘a record In-Home organic growth of 9.1% in 2020’. This increase has been augmented by the boom in coffee drinking in the UK during the year-long pandemic.

Unite’s members are also furious at the proposed changes to the company’s pension scheme which will mean the ending of the final salary system and introducing an ‘inferior’ defined contribution scheme which will be subject to the vagaries of global stock markets.

No dates are yet available for when the ballot might be held for the Ruscote Avenue workforce.

Unite national officer for the food and drink industry Joe Clarke said, “Our members have voted by an impressive 96 per cent in a consultative ballot that they wished to have a full-scale industrial action ballot, including the option to strike, over the bosses’ plans to ‘fire and rehire’ them on inferior pay and employment conditions.

“Their determination has been reinforced by the financial results of the multi-national with strong growth helped by the British public’s insatiable appetite for coffee during the pandemic – and further growth is expected in 2021,” he added.

“Therefore, there is no reason, except excessive corporate greed, why the Banbury bosses have adopted this immoral decision to adopt a ‘fire and rehire’ strategy in the midst of a global pandemic which will damage our members’ incomes and hit the wider Oxfordshire economy.

“To meet the estimated 40 per cent increase in coffee drinking during the last 12 months, the workforce at Banbury has worked flat out supplying the nation with Tassimo, Kenco and L’OR Coffee,” Clarke continued.

 “Unite’s door is open 24/7 for constructive talks with the management on the plant’s future.”

 In a letter of support to the workforce, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “The recent notice of fire and rehire from JDE in Banbury is a despicable attack on our hard-working key workers who have committed themselves so tirelessly throughout this Covid crisis, under extremely difficult circumstances, supplying the nation with coffee throughout the UK.

 “This is an opportunist attack on our members’ pay and conditions, our members and their families have been through enough hardship over the past 12 months without having to deal with this unethical and immoral behaviour.”

By Shaun Noble

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