High Steward of Banbury and former MP says Banburians should not be subjected to 'fire and rehire' tactics, as planned at JDE coffee factory

High Steward of Banbury and former constituency MP, Sir Tony Baldry, says dismissal and re-engagement 'shouldn't happen to any Banburian'.

By Roseanne Edwards
Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 2:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 2:33 pm
Sir Tony Baldry, former MP and High Steward of Banbury, who has spoken out about fire and rehire practices at the town's coffee factory
Sir Tony Baldry, former MP and High Steward of Banbury, who has spoken out about fire and rehire practices at the town's coffee factory

Sir Tony made the statement in a response to workers - dubbed the Banbury 300 - who taking industrial action at JDE the Ruscote Avenue coffee factory. JDE, which makes freeze dried coffee, instant powdered coffee and Tassimo capsule coffee at the plant, is consulting individual workers over their plans to change their contracts whether they agree or not.

The device used is a Section 188 - known as 'fire and rehire' - which allows the company to offer the workers new, money-saving contracts. If they do not accept the contracts JDE will dismiss them and offer them employment on the new contracts.

Sir Tony, who was MP for Banbury from 1983 - 2015, said: “In the past Banbury residents were often concerned by the smell coming from the coffee plant in the town.

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One of the iconic, original Birds signs on the gateway into the coffee factory

"Today whatever the legal niceties, there will again be many in Banbury who will sense that there is a very bad smell coming from the coffee plant if the employers there are intent on dismissing people working there and seeking to rehire them on worse conditions and poorer terms of pay .

"Who of any of us would want that to happen to ourselves and it shouldn’t happen to any Banburian."

Sir Tony's successor as Banbury MP, Victoria Prentis, posted a statement about the dispute on her website last week. In it she said: "I have been following developments closely and continue to receive regular updates about the progress of discussions.

"It is clearly not an easy situation for those who are employed at the factory, many of whom have worked there for some time now. In the discussions I have had with JDE, it has been made clear to me that some structural changes need to be made to secure its future in Banbury. We all want JDE to remain in the town and not look to take its operations elsewhere."

The JDE coffee factory in Ruscote Avenue, Banbury

A Unite the Union member told the Banbury Guardian: "JDE makes 6,000 tonnes of freeze dried coffee a year and about 11,000 or 12,000 tonnes of spray-dried powder instant coffee. These production lines also roast coffee for Tassimo capsules. I don't think the company could say the Banbury plant would close - none of JDE's other plants would have the capacity to produce that amount extra."

Dutch company JDE now owns and runs the Ruscote Avenue coffee production plant