MSP demands fresh talks as strike looms at Bo’ness food producer

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Workers at a food manufacturing plant are just one day away from going on strike over what their union claims is a “derisory” pay offer.

GMB members at the Caledonian Produce plant operated by Bakkavor, in Carriden Industrial Estate, Bo’ness, have already introduced an overtime ban – which started on April 12 – and plan to strike tomorrow and then on April 25 and May 7.

The action by GMB members aims to force a resolution of a dispute which began in October last year, when Bakkavor management offered initially offered employees a 2.27 per cent pay increase, which is said to equate to an increase of just six pence per hour for the lowest paid workers.

Now Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has called on Bakkavor management to get back around the table with employees to negotiate a more favourable pay deal. Mr MacDonald previously called on Bakkavor to pay the Scottish Living Wage to all Bakkavor employees at the Bo’ness plant.

He said: “It is unfortunate to say the least that an amicable agreement to this lengthy dispute has not been possible to date, however, I would urge Bakkavor management and employees to get back around the table to seek a solution.

“I have previously impressed upon the Bakkavor management the need to move to paying the Scottish Living Wage, which would clearly benefit the workforce. I was pleased that the management acknowledge the need to move to paying the Living Wage at some point in the future, however, it was clear they have no intention of introducing that pay level in the immediate future.

“It is clear that a solution must be found in the short term, with a view to moving to the Living Wage at some point in the not too distant future.”

A Bakkavor spokesperson said: “We have made a pay award to employees equating to a 2.75 per cent increase which is above the UK inflation rate, therefore we are not going to recommence the 2018 pay negotiations.

“We remain disappointed that the GMB continues to create this unsettling environment for our colleagues but have a robust contingency plan in place for the duration of the industrial action.”

Christina Lambie, GMB Scotland Organiser, said: “GMB does not wish our already low paid members to lose money due to strike action, but Bakkavor need to know our members will not stand for being exploited.

“This company will stoop to any level to stop our members’ democratic right to take lawful industrial action and to try and discredit GMB for defending our members’ interests.

“Our members deserve so much better than the poverty pay they receive from this hugely profitable company, who make high quality products for the food shop of choice of those who can afford the luxury – M&S.

“GMB will meet with the company at any time to resolve this dispute. It is in their gift to do so”.

She added: “On Wednesday we will be trying to prevent people and vehicles crossing our picket lines by using peaceful persuasion.”