A strike by more than 700 workers has been suspended at Bakkvor’s Spalding site in Lincolnshire, following a revised pay offer by management.
The industrial action was scheduled for 25 November to 2 January, after production line operatives rejected a 6.5% pay rise – a move that would have affected the manufacturing of own-label soups, sauces and deli products for Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and M&S.
However, it was put on hold this week to allow workers to be balloted on the new, two-year offer of a 7.5% increase in 2022 and 6% in 2023. It came after earlier negotiations between trade union Unite and Bakkavor had collapsed.
“Following fresh talks, a further pay offer was made,” said Ravinder Assi, regional officer for Unite. “The strikes scheduled to begin on 25 November have been suspended while workers are balloted.”
Bakkavor was “pleased to confirm it has reached agreement with the Unite union on its latest pay offer at its Spalding site”, said a spokesman for the ready meals and fresh foods supplier.
“It is important for us to be able to offer our colleagues a fair and sustainable pay offer, along with wider benefits. At the Spalding site, our most recent offer is competitive with the local market and provides colleagues with certainty.
“It also allows us to focus on our operational delivery, at a time when the trading environment remains challenging and significant inflationary headwinds are persisting,” he added. “If the offer at Spalding is accepted, we will have successfully completed our normal pay negotiations for 2022 across all our UK sites.”
It comes as Bakkavor – which boasts almost 16,000 employees across 29 sites – consults with workers on the potential closure of facilities in Sutton Bridge, which produces salads, and Leicester, where it makes desserts. Up to 900 jobs would be affected by the closures.
“We are having to take decisive action to adapt to the challenging macro-economic backdrop,” said CEO Mike Edwards earlier this month. “We remain committed to both protecting our business and doing everything we can to support our people through this difficult time.”
Bakkavor this morning warned its full-year profits would be at the lower end of its forecasts, as volumes were hit by the squeeze on household budgets.