Heinz workers to down tools

Posted on 15 Dec 2010 by The Manufacturer

Nearly 1200 workers at the flagship Heinz factory in Wigan will strike tonight in protest at the food manufacturer’s latest pay offer.

The workers, represented by the union Unite, are unhappy with a two year deal offered by Heinz which offers below inflation pay rises of 3.3 per cent this year followed by a capped 3 percent for next year.

Yesterday (Dec 14) the workers began a self imposed ban on overtime and said that they would be working to the letter of their contracts. Tonight, they will down tools at just before 10pm and continue strike action for 24 hours.

Jennie Formby, Unite national officer for food and drink, said Heinz should recognise that while it itself is gaining more revenues, yesterday’s inflation figures prove it is more expensive for its employees to live.

“Yesterday we had absolute proof that living in this country is getting more expensive,” she said. “Inflation leapt by 4.7 percent, fuel is staggeringly expensive but hard to sacrifice during this harsh winter and with the VAT rise coming around the corner in the New Year, it is getting extremely difficult to make ends meet.

“But Heinz is rolling in cash – its margins climbed to 37 percent last year, more than good enough for them to continue to give massive rewards to shareholders and senior executives. They are simply using this economic downturn to squeeze more from a loyal workforce.

“This tight-fistedness will backfire. The size of the vote in favour of taking action to defend their wages shows the strength of feeling. This workforce is determined to be treated with the respect they have earned.”

Unite says that it still wishes to resolve the situation with Heinz managers but warned that further strike action may soon be announced for next week and over the Christmas period.

The factory produces approximately two million cans of food per day.