NI bread shortages warning

Likelihood of bread shortages in Northern Ireland this weekend as Hovis workers confirm all-out strike action

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Unite has warned of bread shortages in Northern Ireland this weekend as Hovis workers have confirmed all-out strike action.

Management’s offer of a three percent pay increase was rejected by workforce reps as it does not deliver on Northern Ireland workforce pay parity with Hovis workers in Great Britain.

Unite has warned that post-Brexit difficulties in the marketplace as a result of red tape barriers to importing bread from Great Britain will likely be compounded by protracted halt of production at the Hovis Belfast site.

Unite regional officer Sean McKeever confirmed that his union’s members at leading UK bakery Hovis in Belfast would be commencing all-out strike action from 6am on Friday (May 14).

The move follows the failure of management to meet the demand from its workforce in Northern Ireland for pay parity with Hovis employees in Great Britain.

“We had hoped that this morning management would move to address our members’ legitimate demands for pay parity with Hovis employees in Great Britain,” Keever said. “That would mean a 10 percent pay increase – sadly, bosses made a totally inadequate 3 percent offer which our reps did not even consider worthwhile to take back to their members for consideration.

“As such, our members have been left with no alternative but to proceed with planned all-out strike action commencing tomorrow,” he added. “Joint Unite-Baker’s union pickets will be going up outside Hovis from 6am on Friday, May 14th.

“We have highlighted that all-out strike action will have a fairly immediate impact on the supply of bread in Northern Ireland,” McKeever continued.

“We understand that in advance of the strike, baking activities at the Belfast site – which produces more than half Northern Ireland’s bread, have already stopped. This strike is likely to compound supply difficulties already arising from red tape on bringing bread from Great Britain into Northern Ireland post-Brexit. This strike is likely to lead to bread shortages as early as this weekend.

“Hovis is a hugely successful company which reported pre-tax profits at the end of last year of £19.2 million,” he went on to say. “There is no excuse for treating their workers in Northern Ireland any differently to those in Great Britain.

“Their workforce in Northern Ireland have a legitimate expectation of being paid on an equal basis to workers in Great Britain. We are calling on them even at this late stage to see sense, avoid this unnecessary dispute and the disruption and inconvenience it will cause consumers in Northern Ireland.”

By Donal O’Cofaigh

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