Banbury MP Victoria Prentis encourages continued negotiations involving 'Banbury 300' at JDE coffee plant

MP Victoria Prentis responds to request from Banbury Town Council seeking support for the 'Banbury 300' at the JDE coffee plant

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 12:15 pm
MP Victoria Prentis responds to request from Banbury Town Council seeking support for the 'Banbury 300' at the JDE coffee plant (File image of the JDE coffee plant)
MP Victoria Prentis responds to request from Banbury Town Council seeking support for the 'Banbury 300' at the JDE coffee plant (File image of the JDE coffee plant)

Last night, Banbury Town Council unanimously passed a motion Tuesday June 22, which said: “Banbury Town Council calls on our MP Victoria Prentis to support the ‘Banbury 300’ and urges her to back the Private Member’s Bill making ‘Fire and Rehire’ unlawful”.

The motion was moved by Barry Richards (Labour) and seconded by Kieron Mallon (Conservative). During the debate councillors from both parties voiced support for the employees at Jacob Douwe Egberts under notice of dismissal and called for the company to withdraw the notices and to resume meaningful discussions with Unite the Union and agree to a reasonable way forward.

Cllr Richards quoted Barry Gardiner, whose Private Member’s Bill has wide cross-party support in Parliament, saying we spend a lot of time disagreeing, but there are times when we can all share a common goal.

MP Victoria Prentis responds to request from Banbury Town Council seeking support for the 'Banbury 300' at the JDE coffee plant (File image of Banbury Town Hall)

Cllr Richards said: “The Bill is about consultation and co-operation rather than making threats, it is about reducing industrial strife and promoting best practice, it is about supporting companies that reward workers with a fair and decent wage for their skills and loyalty.

"It is wonderful that so many good employers and business leaders condemn fire and rehire. This Council motion is not only morally right but in the best interests of sustainable business.”

Cllr Mallon said: “It doesn’t matter if you know it as Birds, Kraft or JDE, the coffee plant is a Banbury institution providing jobs for generations of Banbury people since the early 1960’s. Of course Banbury Town Council supports Banbury workers and Banbury jobs.

"The only way forward in industrial disputes is for both sides to enter proper negotiations to achieve a fair outcome. We call on the union and JDE to find a way forward.”

MP Victoria Prentis responds to request from Banbury Town Council seeking support for the 'Banbury 300' at the JDE coffee plant (File image of MP Victoria Prentis)

A joint statement from the Labour and Conservative Parties said: "We hope Victoria Prentis will send a clear message to the people of Banbury by supporting the Bill through Parliament. Fire and rehire is just not fair."

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis issued the following statement in response to the request for her support.

She said: “I share the concerns of Banbury Town Council and residents across north Oxfordshire about the ongoing situation at the JDE plant in Ruscote Avenue.

"As Cllr Mallon has made clear, it is a Banbury institution, having provided employment for hundreds of local residents for a number of decades.

"It was made clear to me that JDE would need to take some action to address huge differences in the terms and conditions of associates at the factory. Discussions have been ongoing for some time now, so it is disappointing that we have reached the stage where Section 188 notices have been served to those employees yet to agree to their new contracts.

"Having spoken to the Minister, I know that the Government has done a lot of work on the issue of fire and rehire over the past few years, and actively engaged with ACAS who carried out some work on the subject. A robust legal framework already exists which protects employees and makes clear that fire and rehire notices should only be served as a last resort.

"While I have written formally to the BEIS Minister, Paul Scully, I am aware that Barry Gardiner’s Bill has now been presented to the Commons and will be debated on 22 October.

"Given that Section 188 notices have been served and the 12 week notice period is well underway at JDE, I would encourage all those involved with negotiations to come back to the table to help find a satisfactory resolution to the situation for all.”