The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 17th November 2017

Unite warns of Christmas ‘bread drought’

SUPERMARKET customers in England’s North West and Midlands could face a pre-Christmas ‘bread drought’ if drivers at the Kingsmill bakery in West Bromwich, who deliver 1.5 million loaves each week, go on strike in a pay dispute.

About 130 drivers, maintenance staff and security personnel, members of the giant union Unite, are being balloted this week for strike action in a dispute over “a paltry pay offer”. The ballot closes on Monday 27 November.

The Birmingham Road site produces 1.5 million loaves per week, as well as rolls, muffins and toasties, and if there is a strike before Christmas the regions that will bear the brunt of the ‘bread drought’ will be the east and west Midlands, and the North West.

Bakery bosses have offered a two per cent pay rise, plus £150 for the year starting April 2017 and the same offer for the year starting April 2018. Kingsmill is owned by the highly profitable ABF Grain Products Limited.

Unite is highlighting the fact that Kingsmill drivers earn between £26,000 and £28,000-per-year, whereas drivers employed by Sainsbury’s are on £42,000 and those working for Culina take home £33,000.

The union has also identified that drivers at the company’s Stockport depot earn £1,500-per-year more than those at West Bromwich, throwing up serious ‘equal pay’ issues.

Unite lead officer for the food sector Joe Clarke said: “What we have here is a highly profitable global company paying our Kingsmill members well below what competitors are paying their drivers for the same work.

“In some cases, the differential is as much as £14,000-a-year which is totally unacceptable.”