Escalation of industrial action will see the Banbury 300 hold 24-hour strike at coffee factory as company refuses to withdraw 'fire and re-hire' notice

Cash inducements, risk to holidays and some pay cuts in store have lead to a 24-hour strike at Banbury's JDE coffee factory over the company's refusal to withdraw 'fire and re-hire' notice.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 2:47 pm
The JDE coffee production factory in Ruscote Avenue where the the Banbury 300 have voted for an overtime ban and a one-day strike next month
The JDE coffee production factory in Ruscote Avenue where the the Banbury 300 have voted for an overtime ban and a one-day strike next month

The strike action will take place for 24 hours from May 8 - May 9 in defiance of the S188 notice which asks the workers to agree contract changes.

If these are not accepted the workers will be dismissed and then offered new contracts with the new conditions.

Workers in JDE s plant in Bremen, Germany are fighting a similar 'restructuring' battle and have sent a message of solidarity and support to the Banbury 300, describing the Jacobs Douwe Egberts' tactics as 'shameful' and 'a scandal'.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union who supports the Banbury 300

JDE says it needs to 'reset' Banbury manufacturing to maintain competitiveness and does not propose the changes lightly.

Union bosses said they had made it clear to ACAS, the conciliation service, they would de-escalate the industrial action if JDE withdrew the S188 notice. But management said it would not be appropriate to do so as 'the process is ongoing', the union said.

Unite is legally challenging inducements that offer some workers a £750 payment to accept the changes. It says some could see £7,000-a-year lopped off their salaries.

It says workers are 'outraged' by what they believe is a deliberate company ploy of 'banning' summer holidays during the overtime ban that starts on May 1. JDE says it is not a ban, but that holiday approval will be dependent on whether production can afford the absences.

Unite rep for the food and drink industry, Joe Clarke, said: “The management at JDE is beginning to panic about production schedules by attempting to undermine the overtime ban by stopping workers taking their summer holidays. It is a deliberate and underhand ploy to undermine legitimate trade union industrial action and has sparked real outrage amongst our members."

A JDE spokesman said: "A JDE UK spokesperson said: “We have always been clear that there is an overwhelming need to reset Banbury manufacturing and do not propose these changes lightly. Our current proposals mean the majority of associates will gain financially and there is compensation for those who are financially impacted.

“We started the S188 legal process in February because informal consultations with the union did not progress. Unfortunately, during the 45-day formal collective consultation under the S188, the union did not attend and the process concluded. This is why we asked the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to help us reach an agreement and mitigate any potential industrial action.

“We are now in individual consultation with our associates so they can decide the best way forward individually. There is a role for everyone and the proposals do not include any redundancies within the manufacturing unit.

"We appreciate some associates may find the changes difficult. We urge everyone to constructively work together and discuss the terms of the proposals to reach an agreement that benefits both our associates and the business.

“We are obviously disappointed that some associates may choose to take part in a 24-hour strike on May 8 but respect their right to make their voices heard on the proposals.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who is supporting the Banbury workers, said: “Fire and rehire' is ripping through our workplaces like a disease. Weak law lets bad bosses force through brutal changes to contracts, sometimes taking thousands of pounds off wages that families need to get by.

"It's a disgraceful practice that's outlawed in much of Europe and should be here."

The 'fire and rehire' practices which are affecting British Gas and British Airways workers are to be debated in Westminster tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon. Details of the debate can be found here.