Negotiations adjourned between union and management at Banbury coffee plant

Talks between Unite the Union the management at Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) adjourned today (Wednesday March 4) after the company served notice to dismiss and re-engage its entire workforce at Banbury – before any consultation process had started.

By Matt Elofson
Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 2:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 2:21 pm
Jacobs Douwe Egberts (Picture by Google)
Jacobs Douwe Egberts (Picture by Google)

The decision to reemploy 300 workers on inferior pay and conditions at a coffee processing plant in Banbury will be strongly opposed by Unite said Britain and Ireland’s largest union today (Wednesday March 4).

Unite, which has about 300 members at the Ruscote Avenue site that produces Kenco Tassimo and Millicano, pledged to campaign against the decision and take the workers’ case to the company’s most senior executives.

Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: “In nearly 30 years of union work I have never encountered such a negative approach from an employer to ignore the established consultation and negotiating procedures. It has come like a bolt out of the blue.

Sign up to our daily Banbury Guardian Today newsletter

“What is a shame about this dispute is that previously Unite had enjoyed good industrial relations with the firm, but unfortunately the current crop of managers is showing its lack of experience and maturity.

“If the multinational company is having difficulties at Banbury, Unite is prepared to engage constructively to meet the challenges – but what we won’t put up with is strong-arm tactics which unilaterally destroys employment.

“We call on the company to withdraw its ‘sack and reemploy’ diktat and enter into meaningful negotiations.

“Meanwhile, Unite is lobbying for the support of European affiliated trade unions and global trade unions.

“We will not stand by and see our members’ livelihoods destroyed, and the collateral damage to the local Banbury economy and social fabric. The campaign now moves into top gear.”

JDE officials released the following statement today (Wednesday March 3) contending the changes will not involve a 'reduction in headcount.'

Rob Williams, the plant director for JDE in Banbury, said: "We have been proudly making coffee at Banbury for 55 years and want to continue to do so. We can confirm that we are considering making some changes to the way we work at Banbury.

"Many of our shift patterns and processes have not changed in decades which means some modernisation is essential if we are to ensure coffee manufacturing stays in Banbury for years to come. The proposed changes do not include a reduction in headcount.

"We recognise that change is difficult, but this is a vital step to keep our Banbury factory sustainable and create jobs for local people into the future.

"The letter received by employees sets out the legal process as required and we have made it clear during plant briefings, that any changes are to be the subject of a full and thorough consultation with the union representatives, we continue to remain committed to this."