Bakkavor workers take fight to save jobs to the streets

Santa shoed his support for workers while Chris Green donned a Scrooge outfit to depict Bakkavor bosses. Photo: SG171210-23MD
Santa shoed his support for workers while Chris Green donned a Scrooge outfit to depict Bakkavor bosses. Photo: SG171210-23MD

BAKKAVOR workers blamed their bosses for ruining their Christmas during a protest against job cuts on the streets of Spalding.

The Unite union staged a protest in Hall Place on Friday in a bid to send a defiant message to the Icelandic food giant, which has its UK base in West Marsh Road.

In good elf: Shane Butkeraitis took part in Friday's protest

In good elf: Shane Butkeraitis took part in Friday's protest

The union is opposing plans to cut 170 jobs at the Bourne Salads site and says the remaining workers will be forced to accept worse pay and conditions.

Employees will find out their fate by mid January, meaning that some face an anxious Christmas period.

One protestor dressed as Scrooge to portray bosses as the miserly Dickens character and workers held placards reading “Bakkavor Srooges Stole Our Christmas” and “Merry Christmas - Pay + Holidays Chopped”.

A bus that was set to bring in supporters from Peterborough broke down - meaning numbers were much lower than the union’s expected figure of 100.

The protest in Hall Place, Spalding

The protest in Hall Place, Spalding

Unite national officer for food and drink Jennie Formby said: “These are very very low paid workers and they shouldn’t be forced to pay the price for management mistakes.

“Our members don’t want to take industrial action and don’t want to do this - they are loyal and supportive - but they want they same loyalty to be shown to them.

“The shocking thing is that the workers at Bakkavor cannot afford to buy the food they are producing.”

Martin Hodgkin, Unite’s senior steward at the Bourne site, said they did not intend on letting the management cut terms and conditions and there was still “more to come” from their campaign.

He said rumours were spreading across other factory sites that Bakkavor might “roll out” the same plan in other locations as they have for Bourne. The firm has denied that the job cuts affect any of its other sites - which include Sutton Bridge and Holbeach St Marks.

He said: “Morale on the site is rock bottom. It’s a job to know what to say to people. We have another meeting with management on Monday (yesterday).”

One worker, who asked not to be named, said: “Spirits are very very low. A lot of people were scared of coming out on the protest and making a point.

“We have come here, where the main HQ is, to try to send a message. Our management aren’t listening to us so we are trying to go above their heads.”

Bakkavor said it is “disappointed” with the union for not understanding the pressures the firm and the food sector are under.

A spokesman said: “If union members and staff feel the need to participate in this action then we acknowledge their right to do so. We appreciate that the extensive consultation process over the last three months has been a difficult time for everyone on site at Bourne, and emphasise that our objective has always been to sustain the business in the long term against a backdrop of very difficult trading conditions.

“We would like to thank our staff for their continued patience and understanding in this matter.

“We are committed to both securing the vast majority of jobs on site and offering terms and conditions that are at least in line with or better than our competitors, while remaining sustainable and competitive.”

It says the numbers of jobs at risk has dropped from 375 to 170 following a 90 day consultation.

Police said the event passed off peacefully.