Allied Bakeries faces strike action at its depot in West Bromwich in a pay row with drivers and engineers.
Workers at the site, which supplies Kingsmill bread to Aldi, Asda, the Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in the Midlands and north west, have grown “increasingly frustrated” with the company since pay talks started in May earlier this year, according to union Unite.
Last month, Allied owner Associated British Foods said the bakery business’ margins had been hit by low retail prices, a resurgence of lower-margin own-label and inflationary cost pressures.
Warning workers were at “breaking point”, Unite said it was highly likely members would back industrial action in a strike vote.
“Unite members have become increasingly frustrated by Kingsmill and the bosses’ refusal to recognise their hard work with a cost-of-living pay rise,” added Unite regional officer Joe Clarke.
“To add insult to injury we also have issues surrounding pay parity within the West Bromwich depot and pay inequality with other depots around the UK, in addition to the use of sub-contractors.”
Clarke added the strike action would have “a major impact” on bread supplies to major supermarkets, although Allied Bakeries told British Baker it did not expect the situation to cause disruption to supply for its customers or consumers.
“We have been discussing remuneration with our drivers at Allied Bakeries West Bromwich and their unions since May 2017,” added an Allied Bakeries spokesman. “Unfortunately, we haven’t yet been able to bring about a resolution that is satisfactory to all parties and are disappointed that the West Bromwich branch of Unite has chosen to ballot for industrial action.
“We have made what we believe is a good offer to the drivers at the West Bromwich site, which is comparable to those offers accepted by all other locations in the UK. We are always open to discussions with our employees and have invited our drivers to join us for further conversations.”
News of the strike action threat comes three weeks after Allied announced plans to close its Norwich distribution depot. The business has said there would be no compulsory redundancies among the 49 staff at the site, adding it hoped a “significant number” of employees would transfer to a third-party logistics provider that is taking on local deliveries.