Drivers and other workers at Allied Bakeries’ West Bromwich site have voted to take strike action in a row over pay.
Union Unite today (28 November) said drivers, maintenance staff and security personnel at the Kingsmill bakery in West Bromwich had voted by 82% for strike action, describing this as “an overwhelming mandate for Unite’s stance”.
Earlier this month, the union had warned that strike action could bring a “bread drought” to the north west and Midlands, although Allied has said it is confident it can still deliver fresh bread to all its grocery retail customers.
The dispute is over what the union has described as “a paltry pay offer”. Unite has claimed West Bromwich drivers are earning less than drivers working at Allied’s Stockport depot, and less than those working for Sainsbury’s and logistics firm Culina.
“Our 130 members were offered a 2% pay rise, plus £150 for the year starting April 2017 and the same offer for the year starting April 2018, which is completely unacceptable, as the CPI inflation rate for October was 3%,” said Unite lead officer for the food sector Joe Clarke.
He added that, following the ballot result, the union has had initial discussions with the company about further talks with senior executives, and is now waiting on possible dates for new talks.
“We look forward to constructive talks with the company in a bid to resolve this dispute, but reserve the right to take strike action, if a new offer is not forthcoming,” said Clarke.
Allied said it was disappointed that staff had voted in favour of taking industrial action, stating that, over the past 10 years pay settlements at the West Bromwich site have averaged 2.4%.
“This amount is over the CPI rate of inflation for the same period and consistent with our long-term commitment to paying a fair wage while ensuring safe and decent working conditions for all our employees,” added a spokesman.
“The current offer we are making to our delivery drivers at West Bromwich is comparable to that which has been accepted by all our other delivery drivers across the UK. It’s in line with the local market benchmark and above the amount many commercial vehicle drivers across the country will receive.”
Allied said it was committed to trying to resolve this situation amicably and was open to further discussion.
“Should industrial action go ahead, we have robust plans in place and do not expect to see any disruption to bread supply for either our customers or shoppers,” it added.