'Preparing to battle'

Heineken Hereford staff fighting huge ‘sack and sign’ contract cuts

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Workers at Heineken’s cider brewery in Hereford, Herefordshire, are ‘preparing to battle’ a ‘sack and sign’ (SAS) ultimatum by the company that will see staff lose thousands of pounds in pay and benefits, Unite said today (November 26).

Last week, Heineken announced that it intends to fire and rehire staff at the brewery, which makes Strongbow and Bulmers and where Unite has more than 200 members, on contracts that would result in huge pay reductions for many workers.

The staff who stand to lose the most would be those affected by changes to retirement rundown benefits, while the company also plans to cancel Sunday shift premiums, cut holiday pay and change the terms and conditions for flexible working.

Unite national officer Joe Clarke said,“Heineken’s SAS ultimatum to its Hereford staff has shocked the workforce, who have worked hard throughout the pandemic ensuring the company kept bringing money in.

“Many staff stand to lose a massive amount of their wage packets and fear that they will be unable to pay the bills if these plans go through,” he added.

“Staff are preparing to battle these changes with everything they’ve got. What else are they supposed to do when faced with losing their financial security after years of dedicated service?

“Unite and Heineken have had a good relationship for many years, but the company should be in no doubt that the union will do everything in its power to stop these attacks on our members’ contracts,” he continued.

“A consultative ballot for strike action has been launched and Unite will continue to mobilise against these changes through legal channels and the industrial action process until the company’s retracts this outrageous sack and sign ultimatum.”

Unite regional coordinating officer Simon Powell, who has been leading the negotiations on behalf of the union, said,“Throughout the negotiations, which have taken place over a long period of time, Heineken’s management have adopted an aggressive approach and tried to ride roughshod over many of the workforce’s employment terms.

“Instead of offering conditions that are completely unacceptable to our members, we urge Heineken to get back around the table and seek agreement on this for the good of all concerned.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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