Xmas Fox's Biscuit shortages threat

Batley Fox's Biscuit workers take strike action in pay cut dispute

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Shoppers will struggle to buy Fox’s Biscuits this Christmas as engineers, employed by the company at its Batley factory, take strike action in a pay dispute.

The dispute involves 36 engineers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union. They have been offered an increase of five per cent (with strings attached). The offer is in reality a real terms pay cut, with the current inflation rate (RPI) at 12.6 per cent.

The engineers will take four days of strike action beginning on Sunday 6 November followed by a further four days of strike action beginning on Monday 14 November.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Our members undertake a highly skilled role ensuring Fox’s production lines run smoothly and they are simply not going to accept a substantial real terms pay cut.

“This is a hugely wealthy company and settling our members’ pay claim would be an absolute drop in the ocean for it. This is a classic example of a company that can pay but is choosing not to,” she added.

“Unite is absolutely committed to enhancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its workers and the engineers at Fox’s biscuits will receive the union’s unwavering support.”

The engineers play a critical role in ensuring that production lines are fully functioning and that output is not affected by breakdowns or malfunctioning equipment.

Any production delays will affect the supply of Fox’s products to its principal customers M&S, Morrisons, Aldi, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s.

Fox’s Biscuits is part of the multinational Ferrero Group. The latest accounts of the company’s UK and Ireland’s operations reveal that its revenues increased by 10 per cent to £450 million. Unite has costed the total pay increase the engineers are seeking at just £140,000.

In return for the five per cent pay increase, which is in reality a real terms pay cut, the engineers would have to accept moving from weekly to monthly pay. Their notice period would also be extended from one week to three months.

Unite regional officer Chris Rawlinson noted, “Unite’s members are taking strike action as a last resort. The union has given the company every opportunity to make a fair pay offer but it has failed to do so.

“The strike action will inevitably result in production problems and product shortages in the run up to Christmas but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making.”

By Barckley Sumner

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