UK Greencore staff in Dublin protest
A group of workers from the Greencore Cakes and Desserts factory in Hull travelled to Dublin today to protest outside the company’s headquarters and the Department of Agriculture over cutbacks at the factory.
The Greencore company supplies celebration cakes and Christmas cakes to several large supermarket chains.
The six Yorkshire workers were supported by Unite trade union members from Britain and Ireland. Jennie Formby, national officer of Unite’s food and drink sector said the company had introduced temporary cuts to workers’ terms and conditions in June 2010.
“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 cutbacks affected overtime payments, shift premiums and bank holiday payments.
“The overwhelming majority of people are on minimum wages with at least 40 per cent, if not 50 per cent, of the workforce on national minimum wage,” Ms Formby said.
The group handed in a petition to senior management representatives at Greencore’s head office at Santry earlier today and also called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to exert pressure on Greencore management to protect its workers’ terms and conditions. The protesters noted Mr Coveney’s brother Patrick is Greencore chief executive.
A Greencore spokeswoman said management at the factory in Yorkshire had been in pay discussions with employees’ representatives because 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.”
The workers disputed the company’s contention that the majority supported the Greencore proposals and said about 500 of the 700 permanent workers had signed their petition.