Barry Callebaut employees demand fair pay

Workers at Barry Callebaut’s Banbury site in Oxfordshire, UK, have gone on strike in their fight for a fair pay deal, as the company’s profits and top boss’s pay soars.

The dispute has been soured by the knowledge that the top director’s pay increased by 79% in 2011, while the 108 members of Unite have been offered a paltry 1.5%.

Despite a 13.3% jump in profits for 2011, the leading manufacturer of chocolate products, which supplies cocoa pellets to some of the world’s biggest confectionery companies, including Kraft, Cadbury (now owned by Kraft), Nestle and Hershey has refused to increase its pay offer of just 1.5%  Unite is calling on the company to explain how the top director’s pay shot up by 79% in 2011, while the union’s demand for a fair pay increase has been rejected.

Workers at the Banbury site in Oxfordshire have held two 24 hour walk outs, with a further two 48 hour stoppages planned for 28 September and 1 October, in a dispute over pay. The strike is solid, with staff vowing to continue the action until a deal is reached.

Attempts to settle the long-running dispute have been thwarted at every turn by management at the Banbury site, who have not only failed to match the 2% pay increase offered to workers at the company’s other site, but also to engage in meaningful talks with the union.

Mick Polleck, Unite regional officer says, “Profits are up, but instead of awarding the loyal workforce with a fair pay deal, the company is dragging its heels and refusing to negotiate.

“With the top boss pocketing a whooping 79% pay rise for 2011 and other workers getting a 2% pay rise, it is little wonder that our members’ patience has run out. They have vowed to fight until they get a pay deal that reflects the contribution they have made to the company’s success

“Managers must stop hoarding the riches and give our members their fair share. With the company’s profits up by 13% for 2011, a better pay offer is easily within its reach. Instead of working towards a solution, the company has threatened not to pay any back pay, unless the workforce accept the deal before the end of the year. This type of intimidation must stop.

“Unite is ready to negotiate, but it takes two. We are ready to get around the table or involve Acas to settle this dispute. The ball is in Barry Callebaut’s court.

Staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action with 91.6% in favour. Management have been called in over the weekend to cover for the 108 striking workers.

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