Union to take protest to streets of Spalding

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UNION bosses will stage a protest in Spalding town centre this Friday to fight Bakkavor’s plans to cut 170 jobs in Bourne.

The Unite union said the cuts at Bourne Salads were caused by “incompetence” by the Icelandic food giant and will hold a protest in Spalding – home to the firm’s UK office in West Marsh Road.

Bakkavor says it is still talking with workers to reduce redundancies – and cut the number of expected losses from 375 to 170 following a 90-day consultation period.

But Unite says it is angry on behalf of workers – who face an anxious Christmas with bosses due to tell them their fate by January 17 – and argues that the workers who remain will face worse pay and conditions.

Jennie Formby, Unite national officer for food and drink, said: “Bakkavor ought to be ashamed of themselves. It is their incompetence that will mean a bleak Christmas and new year for hundreds of workers and their families.

“If they had a shred of decency they would stay at the table with us and look at every possible means of saving the 170 jobs which are set to go.

“It is crystal clear to us from the detailed knowledge we now have of the Bourne Salad site that the savage attacks on the jobs and pay of these men and women are wholly unjustified and are only being made because of a catalogue of management incompetence over several years.

“They have provided poor service to their customers, they have failed to allow for foreign exchange fluctuations and commissioning of new machinery has been so flawed that they are losing thousands every week.

“Unite has suggested a number of ways in which significant savings can be made and losses turned around - they are not in a ‘make or break situation’ but are trying to terrify workers into accepting poverty pay.

“This cannot be allowed to happen and Unite will be doing everything we can to secure fair treatment of these workers.”

Bakkavor hit back at Unite’s criticism and said it has worked to minimise redundancies and safeguard the rest of the 1,200-strong workforce in Bourne.

It said it will not make changes to hourly rates for current staff - but will introduce lower pay for new recruits. It says its pay is “competitive” and that it minimised changes to holidays and other conditions.

A spokesman said: “As we have stated, trading conditions are difficult and we are competing in a marketplace with other businesses that are able to maintain lower costs.

“In order for us to remain sustainable we have had to make changes, but this has meant we have been able to secure the vast majority of the jobs at the site whilst still offering terms and conditions in line with or on average better than our competitors.”

The job cuts do not affect any other Bakkavor sites.

Police say they are aware of the planned protest and will have uniformed officers on the streets to ensure it remains peaceful.