Once overtime and shift bonuses are removed, basic rates of pay in bread manufacturer are below the legal minimum
Strike ballot is likely to be result in widespread disruption to bread supply in January 2020
Unite Regional Officer, Sean McKeever, confirmed that he was initiating a ballot of his members working at Hovis and warned that the Bread Manufacturing sector would have to address the issue of poverty pay among their workforce to avoid disruption to supply in the early new year.
“Unite’s members at Hovis Bakery in Belfast have put forward a pay claim for a 5.1 percent pay increase. This will translate into a long overdue increase to their wages which remains at scandalously low levels.
“Once you strip out payments for overtime and shift bonuses, the basic rate of pay is actually ninety pence below the legal minimum of £8.21 an hour. The fact that workers’ pay is consolidated means that the employer is able to get away with this – but it means that workers have to work excessively and intensively to break the minimum wage threshold.
“That this is the situation in one of our biggest Bread Manufacturers is a disgrace. Last year, Hovis turned £15 million in profits before tax – they can well afford to pay their workers a fair wage. Their failure to make any move has left Unite with no option but to open a ballot of Hovis workers on strike action.
“Unfortunately this situation is not an isolated case; the entire Bread making sector is exploiting their workers.
“Any strike at Hovis would have profound implications for bread supply in the early new year. We are calling on employers to get real and address their workforces’ pay expectations. While shareholders may see only the opportunity to make bread out of making bread – the workers are not going to accept only the crumbs off the table – they want to earn more than a crust”, Mr McKeever concluded.