No redundancy for Banbury workers who refuse to accept factory shift changes

Employees of the Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) factory in Banbury will receive no redundancy settlement if they refuse to work new 12-hour shift patterns.

Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 5:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 5:52 pm
Jacobs Douwe Egberts, where shift workers are being asked to agree major change, or leave. Picture by Google

The company says it will do its best to come to an agreement with Unite the Union and individual workers, but those who do not agree to the changes in terms and conditions will be deemed to have resigned.

In a letter to all affected members of staff JDE says it needs to change the system to lower costs. It says the cost of agency staff because of inefficiencies may see Tassimo production moved to a lower-cost factory. The company has factories abroad and workers on social media have speculated online that JDE intends to take some production to Europe.

JDE says the demand for certain products is outstripping supply and more production could be brought to Banbury if costs were lowered.

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The company says the changes would result in fewer shift patterns, more self sufficiency among teams and 'a move towards a fairer system of reward'.

If they don't get acceptance after individual discussions (which could take four to eight weeks) as well as union talks which have a time limit of 45 days, they will terminate the existing contracts. Staff will be able to see their proposed new contracts before their individual discussions take place.

JDE says notice of 12 weeks would be given for dismissal and re-engagement and JDE wants to complete the process by October.

The company says it hopes to get agreement through the union but legislation 'does not provide for a veto' so it can simply go ahead with the changes.

The letter says if employees do not agree the contract changes they would effectively be resigning. However JDE says it hopes employees will not resign.

It says personal circumstances of individual workers will be taken into consideration. JDE says the move will not result in job losses and it is assumed those who do not sign up to the new scheme and leave will create vacancies. Those who left would not receive redundancy.

In a statement last week JDE said: "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.

"We are consulting with our factory employee’s and union committee on the changes. 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 for all employees, that any changes are to be the subject of a full and thorough consultation with the union representatives."

Sean Woodcock, of Banbury Labour Party said: "We are appalled at these changes to the terms and conditions. We stand in solidarity with employees at JDE and will be liaising with the trade union to see what support we can offer."