Union brands move by JDE as “corporate gangsterism”


Industrial action escalates after notices of dismissal and re-engagement issued

The Unite union has responded to yesterday’s news that JDE had issued notices of dismissal and re-engagement to some staff at its Banbury coffee factory.   They have branded the move as ‘corporate gangsterism’.

On Wednesday JDE gave notice to staff that had not agreed to sign new agreements that their current contracts would become void in 12 weeks from next Monday (June 7).   New terms and conditions for these staff would then come into force on August 30.  Unite has responded by saying they will now escalate industrial action at the Ruscote Avenue site.

The union has announced four new one-day strike days this Saturday from 7am, next Thursday (June 10) from 6am, Sunday June 13 from 7am and Wednesday June 16 from 6am.

In a statement from JDE on Wednesday they said that “half of affected associates will be £4,000 better off on average and those who are financially impacted will receive compensation”.   However, Unite believes that some of those affected could be losing up to £12,000 a year.

Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: “The company has today announced its notice to dismiss the entire workforce by using unscrupulous ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.

“This move comes on the back of an unprecedented level of commitment by our members throughout the Covid crisis keeping the nation supplied with coffee, as demand soared by an estimated 40 per cent.

“We can only describe the company’s greed-driven approach as a result of a culture of corporate gangsterism by this highly profitable Dutch-owned company.

“We will now escalate strike action in the weeks ahead until the company withdraws these notices and enters into constructive dialogue with Unite to chart a way forward that does not cause economic and social havoc to Banbury and the wider economy.

“We strongly dispute JDE’s claim that half of the affected workers will be £4,000 better off on average – we stand by our position that the new contracts could see some of our members lose up to £12,000 a year in pay – and, in some cases, their homes.”

Unite represents the 291 workers under threat and, so far, there has been a 72 hour strike and two 24 hour strikes, as well as a continuous over time ban that has been in place since 1 May.

The union is running a national campaign to get the government to outlaw the practice, in line with other competitor countries, to give UK workers protection. A recent Survation poll for Unite found seven in 10 want the practice banned.

Unite assistant general secretary for politics and legal, Howard Beckett, said: “It’s quite clear that the public is firmly on the side of working people when it comes to the horrific practice of fire and rehire.

“There is no grey area here. They see that this is an objectionable practice that should be banned. The government has to get on the same page as voters on this and fast.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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