Unite claimed that Uttoxeter-based Fox’s Biscuits’ “axing of an extra day’s holiday” for every five years of employment was “mean-spirited” and probably illegal.
The nation’s largest union claimed that Fox’s Biscuits’ management had unilaterally ended the accrual of an extra day’s holiday for every five years of service for the 600-strong workforce, up to a maximum of five days (covering 25 years’ service). The new provision was due to come into force from Monday April 1.
But a spokesman for Fox’s Biscuits told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “This is not a new story. Discussions took place 12 months ago around ensuring holiday benefits were aligned in our business.
“This was discussed at the company’s employee forum and all 880 employees at Fox’s in Uttoxeter and other Fox’s sites were fully briefed on the changes to holiday entitlement in early January this year.”
All employees who have service holidays will continue to receive them and it was misleading to suggest otherwise, he said.
“Service related days are a benefit offered at the discretion of the company, they are not contractual. The only change from April 1 is that employees will not accrue for any further service holidays, but all existing service days are protected.”
‘Unlawful breach of contract’
Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said:“Our solicitors believe that the removal of this long-established benefit is an unlawful breach of contract – and we will be pursuing the legal process exhaustively.
“We have invoked the dispute procedure and if we can’t get this matter resolved, the prospect of industrial action is on the cards. Our members are also taking out individual grievances which could run into hundreds for their HR department to deal with.”
Coyle added that generations of families had worked for Fox’s Biscuits and their loyalty and dedication has been “shabbily rewarded by a hardline management, which is taking the biscuit, literally”.
The union claimed that Fox’s Biscuits’ action had been “heavily influenced” by the fact the firm was owned by the 2 Sisters Food Group.
The union was involved in a row with the group at its West Bromwich and Wolverhampton sites in December last year.
The biscuit manufacturer is Uttoxeter’s largest private sector employer, and makes both branded and own-label products.