Deep resentment felt over bosses’ attempts to squeeze $50 million ‘savings’ out of Moy Park workers for new owners Pilgrim’s Pride
Moy Park struggling to sustain production as more than one thousand leave employment in last six months
May 15th: Unite Regional Officer for the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland, Sean McKeever, indicated that there was widespread resentment simmering among the Moy Park workforce over recent management behaviour.
“Three thousand workers at Moy Park’s Craigavon and Dungannon sites are members of Unite and there is a genuine risk of industrial action in the next month. These two facilities supply the bulk of chickens for the UK market including all the chickens sold by M&S and Waitrose, and large proportions of those sold across Tescos, Sainsburys and Lidl.
“Relations between the workforce and management have steadily deteriorated since June of last year when Moy Park was sold by owners, and one of the largest meat-packing companies in the world, JBS, to a company in which they are a majority shareholder, Pilgrim’s Pride of the USA.
“Pilgrim’s Pride is notorious in the sector for its use of ever more exploitative practices in the workplace. A 2016 Oxfam report highlighted how workers were denied comfort breaks and had to wear diapers at production lines at the company’s USA sites. At the time of transfer, Pilgrim’s Pride management boasted to the markets that they would deliver $50 million in annualised ‘cost savings’ from Moy Park – but Unite warned them then and we are warning them again that such ‘savings’ will not come off the backs of our members.
“Workers are incensed by the behaviour of Moy Park bosses who were exposed by HMRC, only weeks ago, for failing to pay the bare minimum wage rate. Unite is now in pay talks where management appear intent on removing workers’ shift premiums – one of the only benefits keeping the majority above poverty pay rates. They have made an offer of a paltry pay increase which will barely compensate for inflation but which is worthless considering the longstanding commitment of the UK government to raise the minimum wage to £9 an hour.
“Moy Park bosses must reverse course to avoid an imminent strike ballot and the severe disruption that would follow. There is widespread resentment simmering among the workforce – in the absence of a more reasonable approach by management a strike ballot on all-out action will be opened within days”, Mr McKeever said.