Around 100 workers attend latest GMB strike at Bo’ness food factory

Approximately 100 workers at a Bo’ness food manufacturing plant that supplies fresh food for Marks and Spencers staged a further strike today over pay.

GMB members at Bakkavor (Caledonian Produce Bo’ness) in Carriden Industrial Estate are unhappy with the final pay offer of a 2.75 per cent rise which they say equates to an increase of just six pence per hour for the lowest paid workers.

Workers introduced an overtime ban on April 12 and are planning more strike action next month if a more favourable pay deal cannot be agreed upon.

Christina Lambie, GMB Scotland Organiser, said today’s strike had been “extremely well attended.”

“It sent a clear message to Bakkvor that members will not stand for being exploited.

“There were over 100 people coming and going throughout the day and the feeling overall among members was a positive one with everyone feeling united in their fight for a pay rise they deserve.

“I have offered to meet company representatives to further discuss the matter. They did offer to meet me on a strike day but this obviously wasn’t suitable and I am still waiting to hear back on whether they will meet me another day this week.

“I hope so because our members deserve so much better than the poverty pay they receive from this hugely profitable company.”

Ms Lambie also welcomed support from Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald who 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.

A Bakkavor employee who did not wish to be named said he believed today’s strike had been “the most attended one yet”.

He added: “There was a great feeling of solidarity among union members. Ultimately we just want to get a fair increase and will keep striking until we get the management to sit around the table and agree to a better deal than what they’ve come up with already.”

A Bakkavor spokesman argued however that Bakkavor’s rates of pay were in fact “highly competitive” and that the company was committed to paying at least the national living wage to all colleagues.

“We are disappointed with the misrepresentation of staff pay that is being made by the GMB,” he added.

“We have made a pay award to employees equating to a 2.75 per cent increase which is above the UK inflation rate. We are not going to recommence the 2018 pay negotiations and we have invited the GMB to discuss pay for 2019.

“Only 18 per cent of site colleagues voted in favour of strike action and we remain disappointed that the GMB continues to create this unsettling environment for our colleagues.

“We have a robust contingency plan in place for the duration of the industrial action.”

Further GMB strike action has been scheduled to take place at the Bo’ness plant on Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12.