72 hour strike action begins at JDE


Talks earlier this week failed to make any progress

A 72 hour strike by Unite Union members began at the JDE coffee factory on Ruscote Avenue at 6am this morning.   Workers are not expected to return to the factory until 7am on Saturday.

Today’s action is the latest in the so called “fire and rehire” dispute which has seen a continuous overtime ban in place since May 1, two 24-hour strikes and four successive Saturday demonstrations.

In an effort to find a resolution to the dispute JDE’s management and the union team met on Monday afternoon, but they failed to make any progress.

Chris Moon, full time convenor at the factory, told Banbury FM: “We put a proposal forward to de-escalate and remove a lot of the actions and demonstrations we’ve got in place.   Unfortunately, the company didn’t take that up.

“They still insisted, from a legal point of view they are going to issue the notice of dismissal and re-engagement at some point.

“Up until yesterday afternoon our National Officer was speaking to the Plant Director and said within an hour we could call all this off.   Let’s get round the table and move this forward.   But the response was that its not in his hands now, its gone above.”

Mr Moon said that packing, processing and utilities sections were not at work today.   He said a few temporary staff were in operating some of the equipment but they would be unable to run at full capacity.

The Unite Union say they estimate that the loss of production amounts to 600 tonnes so far – the equivalent of 300 million cups of coffee.   They calculate the financial loss to date at £18 million.   JDE dispute this figure.   A spokesperson said: “The claims made about production are incorrect.   We hope we can reach an agreement but are confident we can continue to supply our products.”

In relation to the talks this week the JDE spokesperson said: “We put forward proposals to the union that would enable us to work together with a view of de-escalating industrial action and reaching mutual agreement. Disappointingly, the union were unwilling to de-escalate industrial action this week to enable further negotiations. Therefore, we have no choice but to move forward to the next stage to provide clarity for our associates. As we’ve always said, we don’t propose these changes lightly but strongly believe they are needed to secure a future for the factory in Banbury.”

The spokesperson added: “The Banbury factory has been part of the local community for over 50 years and these changes are about keeping production here so we can continue to provide jobs.

“We have been talking to Unite and our associates since 2019 about resetting working practices that have not changed in decades. Our fundamental issue is that we are not competitive compared to other factories. Our proposals do not include any redundancies and there is a role for everyone – the current proposals see the majority gain financially with compensation for those who are financially impacted.

“We began informal discussions with the union in January 2021 which then moved into formal legal consultation process. As we were unable to reach agreement during these initial periods of consultation, we then moved into individual consultation with our associates. The final date for impacted associates to sign up to new proposed terms and conditions was 17th May 2021 and we are now in a period of reflection.

“We fully appreciate these changes may be difficult for some of our associates. We don’t propose them lightly but we strongly believe they are needed to secure a future for Banbury.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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