The ballot for the 270 GMB members at Haribo’s Pontefract plant is scheduled to begin on November 24, in a dispute over compulsory working over the Christmas period. Voting will be open for a two-week period.
The GMB said its members had had enough of the company’s attitude of imposing conditions irrespective of what it had agreed, or what member’s family arrangements were.
‘Dictating to employees’
“This dispute has been caused by the company dictating to its employees rather than co-operating with them,” said GMB regional organiser Steve Huckerby.
The GMB had suggested some time ago that the company should ask for volunteers to work over the Christmas period and provide an incentive for doing so, said Huckerby.
Had this advice been taken, he said it felt sure the required number of employees would have offered to work without any problems. However, the company had ignored the suggestion and was forcing members to work, prompting the call for a ballot, he claimed.
Directors were also highly rewarded, Huckerby said. “The company is highly profitable and is looking to increase its profits at the expense of the workforce.”
GMB first announced its intention to hold the strike ballot on November 5. At the time, Huckerby said: “Haribo has gone back on a commitment they made to the workforce that they would not be forced to work over Christmas …
“… The company made this decision taking no account of their staff spending time with their families over the festive season.
‘Increase in demand’
However, a Haribo spokeswoman said: “We have been in consultation with employees since July in relation to working on December 29 and 30; this is in response to meeting an increase in product demand and to honour agreements with our customers.
“As part of this process we have invited any employee who does not want to work on these dates to submit holiday requests, this opportunity has already been taken up by a number of team members.
“Where applicable we have also honoured existing holiday plans and ensured those colleagues have been given the time off. In addition any employee working these dates will receive their existing pay, two additional days of holiday which could be taken at an alternative time or be paid in lieu and an additional attendance and productivity bonus should our targets be met.”
Haribo would continue to reward team members throughout 2015, with the introduction of a new productivity bonus, she added.
Meanwhile, United Biscuits held last-ditch talks to avert strike action at its Jacob’s Aintree plant on Monday (November 17).