4 November 2016
Union Members At York Factory Enter Dispute With Maker Of Mint Humbugs, Barratt Sherbert Fountains, Butterkist Popcorn And Princess Marshmallows
GMB, Britain’s General Union, has announced four days of strikes and continuous action short of strike in November where GMB members in York will down tools after a failure to reach agreement with their employer, Tangerine.
The row centres after a planned pay rise left factory workers frustrated and angry. When the company finally agreed to meet with GMB representatives they begrudgingly offered a 1% pay deal, indignant that they had already introduced the national living wage to the low paid workers. The offer was unanimously rejected by members in favour of a ballot for industrial action.
As the UK’s largest sugar confectionery and branded popcorn manufacturer, Tangerine’s brands include Barratt Sherbert Fountain, Butterkist Toffee Popcorn. Workers were preparing to go cap in hand for another year of despondent pay talks which would leave families struggling before Christmas.
In 2011 US private equity firm Blackstone Group bought a majority stake, Tangerine have since returned this investment by eroding workers’ terms and conditions in favour of profit.
With a clear mandate from members, GMB said action would now start on November 8 and they have warned that action short of strikes will continue if talks fail to materialise. The first 24 hour strike will tak
e place on Tuesday 8 November. Further industrial action will be taken until at least 30 November.
Ben Kirkham GMB Organiser said:
“This is not about rejecting an outright 1% pay increase, this is about GMB members rebuilding their terms and conditions. We have witnessed a long list of attacks on paid breaks and hand washing time, reduced, pension contributions reduced and provider changed, training money and bonus payments pulled – the list really is endless.”
“We’ve seen a US based private equity firm come to the UK and smash the Tangerine dream. What was once a pleasant place to work and a valued career choice for many is now nothing more than a sweet return for its capital partners. We’ve even seen the warehouse radio removed. Why?”
“GMB members feel that they have been backed in to a corner and are faced with no other option than to strike and I really must stress that this is the last resort for our members. As Christmas approaches, we’re saying ‘bah humbug’ to this scrooge employer.”