Saucy Fish

Saucy Fish Co owner Icelandic Seachill has been accused by trade union Unite of paying for the new national living wage by slashing overtime rates.

Icelandic Seachill said it was reviewing costs and pay structures, and had launched a 45-day consultation on changes to terms and conditions for weekly paid employees at its Grimsby HQ, with MD Simon Smith telling staff the company would “always endeavour to provide a fair package and take their needs into consideration”.

However, Unite claimed the proposals amounted to “an outrageous sleight of hand” to recoup money from the NLW. It said the supplier relied on “large amounts of overtime” from its 400 staff to fulfil its orders, with staff expected to work every other weekend on overtime, adding between 10 and 20 hours to an average 40 hour working week.

The supplier was now proposing to slash overtime rates, with the current double time hourly rate of £14.40 set to be reduced to time and a quarter at £9.19, meaning the company saved £5.21 per hour at the workers’ expense, said Unite regional officer Dave Monaghan.

“Our members are extremely angry at this jiggery-pokery and call on the management to put an end to this bad idea regarding the overtime rates,” he said.

“Without the enormous amount of overtime that our members put in this profitable company would not be able to generate tens of millions in sales a year,” he added, while pointing to concerns the practice would become increasingly widespread across the UK from the start of next month.

“When George Osborne introduced the so-called National Living Wage – which we believe is not enough anyway – its aim was to raise the income of the lower paid, it wasn’t meant to be dodged by unscrupulous companies to boost their profits,” Monaghan insisted.

In response, Icelandic Seachill said its priority was to ensure it managed labour costs in such a way “that we provide our employees with an attractive and fair pay structure and the business remains competitive”.

“These proposed changes have been designed to ensure that we retain the best workers, secure the future of the site and continue to operate efficiently,” it said in a statement, with the changes required in order to ensure Icelandic Seachill “maintained competitiveness” and retained existing contracts with customers.