Unite the union is to take legal action against Austrian-owned Mayr-Melnhof Packaging (MMP) over the unlawful dismissal of its workforce.
The workers make packaging for some of the most popular breakfast cereals in the UK, including Frosties, Rice Krispies and Kellogg’s Cornflakes and Unite says that the workforce have been starved of legal entitlements.
MMP locked staff out of the factory and then sacked 53 workers, with Unite commenting that this is a concerted effort to break the workforce’s spirit to get them to accept poorer redundancy terms.
Events culminated with the shock announcement that the plant was to shut. Unite have claimed that, because they were not consulted over the decision to close the MMP site, this breaches both UK and European legal obligations.
The union is arranging to issue an application in the Employment Tribunal claiming a protective award on behalf of all union members made redundant and the union will seek the maximum of 13 weeks gross pay for each member.
It is likely that other claims will be pursued on behalf of the union and all individual members if the decision to dismiss the union’s members is not reversed. This will include claims of unfair dismissal and potentially claims arising under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) Regulations.
Unite’s regional officer for Merseyside, Phil Morgan, said: “It is among the most shameful treatment of workers I have ever come across. MMP clearly thinks it is above the law.”
“Over a hundred loyal workers were handed letters sacking them with only a moment’s notice. MMP owes our members money. We now look to the courts to remind MMP that they cannot ignore its redundancy obligations and its duties to UK workers.”
The sacked workers have been in a dispute with MMP since the company imposed a lock out on 18 February.