Engineers employed by Weetabix, the UK’s favourite breakfast cereal, will begin strike action tomorrow (September 21) as a result of the company’s plans to carry out an extensive “Fire and Rehire’ programme with the workforce. If workers accept the new terms many will lose up to £5,000 a year in wages.
The workers, members of Unite, are based at the company’s factories at Burton Latimer and Corby in Northamptonshire. Both sites will have picket lines in place.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unite’s members at Weetabix will not accept being fired and rehired. Unite will fight to defend our members affected by this disgraceful practice. It is abhorrent that it is legal for companies, like Weetabix, to issue ‘Fire and Rehire’ ultimatums to their staff.
“This is a totally unjustifiable assault on workers’ wages and conditions. Last year Weetabix’s profits went up by almost 20% to more than £81 million,” she added.
The strike on Tuesday will last for 48 hours and there will a further 48 hour strike beginning Tuesday throughout the autumn, with the final strike scheduled to begin on Tuesday, November 30.
The picket lines at the Kettering factory will be in place on Tuesday (September 21) from 6.45am, while the picket lines at the Corby factory will commence from Tuesday at 6am.
The engineers are facing changes to their shifts and working patterns, which would result in the worst affected engineers being £5,000 a year worse off.
The strikes will cause widespread delays to production and led to shortages of Weetabix and other popular products made by the factories including Alpen, Weetos and Oatibix.
Weetabix has performed very strongly since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. It returned a net turnover of $440 million, a 5.3 per cent increase, with profits of $112.3 million, an 18.5 per cent increase. Owners US cereal giant Post Holdings Inc most recent accounts show it had a turnover of $5.7 billion, an operating profit of $700.8 million and $1.2 billion in cash.
Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel said, “Weetabix could end this dispute by simply withdrawing the attacks on workers’ pay.”
“Strike action will inevitably lead to severe disruption of Weetabix’s products but this is entirely of the company’s own making.”
By Barckley Sumner