Banbury's JDE coffee factory 'fire and rehire' dispute is over as a ballot shows 'overwhelming' support for accepting new terms and conditions

The long-running dispute over a 'fire and rehire' proposal to change terms and conditions for nearly 300 staff at the JDE coffee factory in Banbury is over.

By Roseanne Edwards
Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 4:10 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th August 2021, 2:22 pm
The JDE coffee factory which has been subject of industrial action by staff who opposed planned changes to their terms and conditions
The JDE coffee factory which has been subject of industrial action by staff who opposed planned changes to their terms and conditions

Unite the Union distributed a newsletter today (Tuesday) informing the production staff, known as the Banbury 300, that the ballot result was 81.5 per cent (on a 93 per cent turnout) in favour of accepting Jacobs Douwe Egberts' proposals which had been refined following two weeks of intense negotiations with Unite the Union.

The newsletter says that the fire and rehire notices are 'null and void' in the face of the ballot result.

Some sources close to the factory expressed disappointment that Unite had balloted with fire and rehire still on the table. Unite described the result as as the democratic will of the members and said they intend to capitalise on the agreement and call on JDE to now plan investment in the Banbury operation.

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The Unite ballot result released to production staff today

In a statement this afternoon Unite the Union said: "Workers at JDE voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new pay and employment conditions’ package that removes the management’s proposal to ‘fire and rehire’ staff."

Officials said the other components of the package include safeguarding pay and employment conditions and compensation if an employee has to change shifts.

A JDE UK spokesperson said: “We are pleased that our associates have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the latest negotiated deal regarding changes to working practices at Banbury manufacturing. We thank our associates for their patience throughout the process and look forward to working together to create a better future for our factory in Banbury.”

Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: “We are delighted our members have overwhelmingly accepted this deal in a democratic ballot - the scale of the endorsement shows Unite’s stance during the dispute and in the tough negotiations reflected the wishes of the vast majority of the employees.

“The fact that ‘fire and rehire’ has been removed from the table is a major achievement for Unite and the Unite internal plant committee and a tribute to the solidarity that our members have demonstrated throughout. Our members remain in the top 25 per cent of earners for this industry which is a key feature of the package now agreed.

“This outcome is as a result of an intense, high-profile industrial action and leverage campaign supported by the membership of Unite, the trade union movement and the community.

“There is now an opportunity to rebuild relationships with the management in the months and years ahead. We are particularly keen to enter into constructive discussions about future investment opportunities at Ruscote Avenue.

“I would, once again, like to pay heartfelt thanks to our members, their families and the wider Banbury community for the tremendous level of support shown during the last six months.”

One source close to JDE said: "It is a sad day for the workforce at JDE. Unite the Union have betrayed the trust of the workforce. If the union think this is a victory against fire and rehire then that is unbelievable. From day one it has been on the table and not removed until today when the vote went JDE's way. If it hadn't that would still be on table.

"Look forward to a few years times when we have to do it all again. £9k pay cuts was never acceptable."