British Greencore workers protest in Dublin

Fri, Aug 31, 2012, 01:00

IRISH FOOD company Greencore is “bringing shame on to Ireland” because of the way it is treating its workers in a Hull factory, the Unite trade union said yesterday.

Six workers from the Greencore Cakes and Desserts factory in Yorkshire came to Dublin yesterday to highlight their grievances over cutbacks by the company. They were supported by British and Irish members of Unite.

Jennie Formby, national officer of Unite’s food and drink sector in Britain, said the firm brought in temporary cuts to workers’ terms and conditions in June 2010, affecting overtime payments, shift premiums and bank holiday pay.

“They said it was to help them get over a short-term situation. They promised the terms and conditions were going to be restored in October last year but they reneged on that promise,” she said.

“The overwhelming majority of people are on minimum wages,” she added.

Greencore supplies celebration cakes and Christmas cakes to several large supermarket chains.

“We hope the Government will engage in dialogue with the company and say that the way they are behaving is bringing shame on to Ireland,” Ms Formby said.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney’s brother Patrick is chief executive of Greencore.

The group handed in a petition to Greencore’s head office at Santry yesterday before protesting at the Department of Agriculture.

A Greencore spokeswoman said factory management had been in pay discussions with employees, as the facility had been making heavy losses over the past two years.

“The purpose of these discussions is to put the business on a sustainable footing. Management has proposed improvements in basic pay and no redundancies in return for the continued suspension of premium pay for overtime and bank holidays. The majority of the workforce has agreed to these proposals and have signed contracts to that effect,” she said.

“Unite, on behalf of their members, has not. Instead, the union has agitated for better terms, refused to formally ballot its members on any of Greencore’s proposals, made baseless claims and is now engaging in a publicity stunt in Ireland.”

Workers at the protest disputed the claim that the majority supported Greencore’s proposals and said about 500 of 700 permanent workers had signed their petition.