More than 400 workers at a Hull factory are expected to receive up to £1.2 million after their employer refused to revert back to premium pay rates and enhanced holiday pay following a temporary suspension.
According to Unite, the staff at Greencore had agreed to the temporary suspension from June 2010 to October 2011 “in order to help the company during difficult trading conditions”. But the chilled convenience food manufacturer subsequently refused to revert to the workers’ original terms of employment, which lead to the union raising a group action for the unlawful deduction of wages. Jennie Formby, Unite’s national officer told Foodmanufacture.co.uk that the situation could have been avoided if Greencore had listened to the union and “adhered to some basic ethical principles”. Many of the staff had “had to survive on poverty wages since management changed the terms, then broke their promise, even though the Greencore Group is extremely profitable”, she attested. But this wasn’t the end of the matter, Formby added. “Our members are now discussing next steps in the union campaign to restore fairness to the contracts of employment that were unilaterally and unfairly changed by Greencore after Unite pledged to mount this legal challenge,” she explained. A Greencore spokesman told British Baker magazine that it was important to note that the case had not yet been concluded and no specific claim had been agreed or stipulated by the tribunal, however. “Further tribunal meetings are scheduled to take place over the next few months to bring the case to conclusion,” he said. “We believe that the management has a good dialogue with our colleagues at the Hull facility and our priority continues to focus on securing the long-term sustainability of the site and employment for the area”.