London Defender

The Daily Mirror of the Great Britain

Weetabix workers step up industrial action over ‘fire and rehire’ claims

Workers are stepping up industrial action at two Weetabix factories in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Members of trade union Unite are launching four-day strikes on Monday at the cereal firm’s Kettering and Corby plants.

Workers have already been staging strikes every Tuesday and Wednesday since September.

Undated handout photo of the front of a box of Weetabix
Image: Unite has previously said the action would mean delays and shortages in production of Weetabix and other cereal brands

Unite has previously said that the industrial action will lead to delays and shortages in the production of Weetabix and other cereal brands.

The union claims that engineers face cuts to their pay, terms and conditions, describing it as an example of “fire and rehire” – a characterisation which the company denies.

Strikes will now take place every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Weetabix is making bumper profits so there is no justification for these ‘fire and rehire’ attacks on our members’ wages and conditions.

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“Unite will not accept attacks on our members’ jobs, pay and conditions, and Weetabix should expect this dispute to continue escalating until fire and rehire is dropped.”

Stuart Branch, group people and IT director at Weetabix Food Company, said: “For 90 years we’ve maintained a strong and productive relationship with our workforce across Northamptonshire to create a world-leading cereal manufacturing capability.

Sharon Graham
Image: Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said Weetabix was making “bumper profits”

“We’re concerned to see that our reputation is being damaged in service of Unite’s national campaign on ‘fire and rehire’, which is irrelevant to the current industrial action at Weetabix.

“We have repeatedly reassured our engineering team and their union representatives that no individual is at risk of dismissal, and that roles exist for all thanks to our ongoing investment in our UK factories.

“The current discussions with our team focus on a request for compensation for a change in shift patterns.

“As these changes are permitted under their existing contracts we will not be paying for them as it would be unfair to our other employees.

“We are extremely proud of the efforts of our 1,000-strong British workforce, and have paid two additional bonuses over the last year to reflect their hard work throughout the pandemic.”