Gaymers cider selection

Workers at C&C Group’s Shepton Mallett site are voting on strike action

C&C Group is facing strike action at the Somerset plant where brands including Gaymers cider are produced.

Members of the union Unite at C&C’s Gaymer Cider Company in Shepton Mallett, Somerset, are being balloted on whether to strike or to take other industrial action in a row over pay. The ballot at the site, which produces brands including Gaymers Original, Olde English and Blackthorn, closes in two weeks (24 January).

C&C said a strike would pose no immediate threat to supply of the brands, adding that it would continue to update customers and suppliers as the situation developed.

“We are aware Unite’s members are now being balloted on industrial action and sincerely hope common sense will prevail and such unnecessary and potentially damaging action will be rejected,” said C&C Group manufacturing head Deb Kennedy.

The union said the dispute was centred over a 3% pay rise for 2012-13 that was made conditional on a wage freeze in the following year. “We have a situation where a highly profitable company is trying to tie a pay rise to a future pay freeze,” said Unite regional officer Hugh Kirkbride.

“When we got the offer of 3%, our members voted to accept. The company then came back and said it was conditional on our members agreeing to a pay freeze in the following year. We re-balloted and our members rejected the conditional offer.”

C&C said it was “regrettable” that it had been unable to reach an agreement with Unite, claiming it had made an “industry-beating offer” to the workforce.