Talks to begin to try and resolve dispute at Banbury's JDE coffee factory

Unite and JDE have agreed to two weeks of talks to try and end the dispute over 'fire and rehire' measures

Friday, 25th June 2021, 4:55 pm
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 4:56 pm

Unite the union and the management of JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) will be holding two weeks of intensive talks in a bid to resolve the ‘fire and rehire’ dispute at the plant in Banbury.

Unite has said it will now suspend the industrial action that has been running since the beginning of May for the next fortnight, while JDE has agreed to push back the implementation of ‘fire and rehire’ plans affecting 291 employees until September 13.

Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: “Both parties have committed to a two week period of constructive and intensive negotiations, starting on Monday (June 28).

The JDE coffee plant in Banbury
The JDE coffee plant in Banbury

"This will mean Unite suspending the current planned industrial action for the next fortnight and JDE agreeing to push back the implementation date for the ‘fire and rehire’ proposals until 13 September. Our members will be working normally during this period.

“This jointly agreed de-escalation process presents a corridor of opportunity for meaningful talks to overcome the impasse in the difficult discussions we have previously had on the future terms and conditions for our members.

“Unite is fully committed to reaching a resolution in the best interests of our members, who have shown wonderful solidarity and community spirit throughout.

“This dispute has caused serious strains between the workforce and management, souring the previous good employment relations that we enjoyed with the company for many decades. It has also adversely affected the broader Banbury community.

Frequent demonstrations have been held outside the plant, along with industrial action from workers.

“Hopefully, we can now make serious progress leading to a satisfactory conclusion to this dispute. Unite won’t be commenting again until these talks have concluded.”

A JDE UK spokesperson said: “We are pleased to confirm that we will be holding negotiations with Unite over the next fortnight and that the union will suspend industrial action during this time. We look forward to beginning these discussions on Monday (June 28) and are hopeful that we can reach an agreement that secures the future of the factory.”

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'Dismissal and re-engagement’ notices issued to workers at Banbury’s JDE coffee ...

Under the Section 188 'fire and rehire' practice (officially 'dismissal and re-engagement'), JDE put staff under a 45-day consultation on the new contracts. If they did not accept the new contracts, they would be dismissed and re-employed on the new contracts. If they refused they would be out of work.

The workers have conducted a continuous overtime ban since May 1 at the factory, along with several strikes. Demonstrations have also regularly been held outside the plant.