JDE workers receive support as they protest outside coffee factory
“As you can hear in the background I think Banbury is supporting us”
A demonstration by JDE workers outside the factory gates today has received strong support from not only those employed by the company, but also their friends and families and passing motorists. The protest, organised by the Unite Union, was set up as the impasse between management and workers at the coffee factory continues in the so called “fire-and-rehire” dispute.
Socially distanced protestors occupied the verge on Ruscote Avenue between the factory’s main gates and Longelandes Way. Protestors received strong support from passing motorists.
Chris Moon, the full-time convenor at the JDE coffee factory, told Banbury FM the aims of the day. Mr Moon said: “What we’re trying to achieve today is make the company aware that the fire-and-rehire is an absolute disgrace and that they need to take that off the table for us to be able to sit down and negotiate, which we have been doing for the last 55 years with previous management and unions.”
Today marks the first day of an overtime ban at the factory with a 24 hour strike planned for next weekend. Mr Moon is disappointed the current position has been reached. He said: “We’ve had a good relationship with management to get the best for the factory.
“We’ve tried to do everything by negotiating. The company came back and said we weren’t doing things quickly enough and then issued us with a Section 188 and an HR1 form – which is the fire-and-rehire.”
JDE management and staff representatives are next due to meet this coming Friday. The reconciliation service ACAS will also be in attendance.
Mr Moon said the changes being proposed by JDE would have a big impact on some of the staff. He said: “Some people could be losing around £15,000-£20,000 a year. Some people will gain, but everything on the back of that they will lose: break systems, sickness pay, redundancy (even though we’re not in a redundancy situation).”
Ruscote Avenue was packed with Saturday traffic driving past the protestors. A large number of cars were showing their support by sounding their horns. Mr Moon described the support as “absolutely amazing”. He said: “When we went out to ballot members we were surprised and delighted with the amount of support we got.
“As you can hear in the background I think Banbury is supporting us as well.”
JDE maintain they need to make the changes at the factory so the Banbury site remains efficient.
A JDE UK spokesperson told Banbury FM last week: “We have always been clear that there is an overwhelming need to reset Banbury manufacturing and do not propose these changes lightly. Our current proposals mean the majority of associates will gain financially and there is compensation for those who are financially impacted.
“We started the S188 legal process in February because informal consultations with the union did not progress. Unfortunately, during the 45-day formal collective consultation under the S188, the union did not attend and the process concluded. This is why we asked the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to help us reach an agreement and mitigate any potential industrial action.
“We are now in individual consultation with our associates so they can decide the best way forward individually. There is a role for everyone and the proposals do not include any redundancies within the manufacturing unit.
“We appreciate some associates may find the changes difficult. We urge everyone to constructively work together and discuss the terms of the proposals to reach an agreement that benefits both our associates and the business.
“We are obviously disappointed that some associates may choose to take part in a 24-hour strike on 8 May but respect their right to make their voices heard on the proposals.”
Listen to our interview with Chris Moon here: