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Barry Callebaut looking for settlement with UK strikers

By Oliver Nieburg+

25-Sep-2012

Barry Callebaut has told ConfectioneryNews.com that it is looking to reach a settlement with around 100 employees in the UK who staged strikes yesterday and on Saturday over a pay dispute.

Employees at Callebaut’s factory in Banbury, Oxfordshire, belonging to the Unite union, are disillusioned that they received only a 1.5% pay offer in April this year while employees at another site received a 2% pay rise.

Callebaut wants discussions

Raphael Wermuth, external communications manager at Barry Callebaut, said: “We are keen to reach a settlement and are available to meet and further discuss options with the Union representatives to that end.”

The workers are now back after 24-hour strikes on Saturday and Monday.

Asked if Callebaut’s supply to its customers was affected as a result, Wermuth said: “We've had a contingency plan running in order to avoid supply bottlenecks.”

However, he refused to reveal the details of the contingency plan and whether it would be sustainable if strikes occurred again. It is understood that other workers were brought in to cover for the 108 striking union members.

According to the Unite website, the members are set to stage two 48 hour stoppages on Friday 28 September and Monday 1 October unless Barry Callebaut agrees to “meaningful discussions”.

Workers feel ‘betrayed’

Mick Pollek, Unite regional official, said: “Our members have been left feeling betrayed and angry by the way they have been treated by management.”

“The paltry 1.5 per cent offer was made back in April and we are still in dispute. Management has shown no interest in meaningful discussions or involving Acas. The fact that other employees have been given a two per cent pay increase just adds fuel to the Banbury staff’s anger.”

He added that workers were under pressure to accept below inflation pay before the end of the year and had been told they would lose back-pay they refused.

“We have offered to look at ways of making the site more profitable, shifting the pay date, multiple year deals and staggering the increase. None of these have been given any consideration by the management.”

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