Bread workers ballot for strike action over earning a crust

Unite members working for Kingsmill bread are balloting for industrial action over pay that could see them on strike in the run-up to Christmas.

The 130 drivers, maintenance staff and security personnel have been offered a 2% pay rise, plus £150 for the year starting April 2017 and the same offer for the year starting April 2018.

But Unite is highlighting the fact that Kingsmill drivers earn between £26,000 and £28,000-a-year, while drivers employed by Sainsbury’s are on £42,000 and those working for Culina take home £33,000. The union has also identified that drivers at the company’s Stockport depot earn £1,500-a-year more than those at West Bromwich, throwing up serious ‘equal pay’ issues.

Unite lead officer for the food sector Joe Clarke said: “What we have here is a highly profitable global company paying our Kingsmill members well below what competitors are paying their drivers for the same work.  In some cases, the differential is as much as £14,000-a-year which is totally unacceptable.

“Then it has the nerve to add insult to injury by offering a paltry pay deal far below the current rate of inflation. Our members want a fair offer that reflects the cost of living.  A strike could cause havoc to bread deliveries to supermarkets, such as Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, across the North West and the Midlands, as 1.5 million loaves a week won’t be delivered.

“Customers of major supermarkets in these regions seeking bread and other bakery products in the run-up to Christmas could be faced with bread shortages. So you will have a situation where loaves will be coming off the production lines, but no one will be delivering them. There will be ‘bread mountains’ at the West Bromwich depot, but a ‘bread drought’ across great swathes of England.”

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