Pilgrims Food Masters protest - Fire & Rehire

Source: GMB 

The union has over 1,000 members at Pilgrim’s, all of whom have been hit with the fire and rehire threat

Pilgrim’s Food Masters has threatened workers with the sack if they don’t accept losing paid breaks, reduced sick pay and the removal of Diwali holiday pay, the GMB Union has claimed.

Around 100 workers from the company’s London factories were due at parliament today for a meeting with shadow employment minister Justin Madders and other MPs, over the proposed contract changes and an ongoing dispute with the supplier, which manufactures brands such as Richmond and Fridge Raiders.

The trade union has over 1,000 members at JBS-owned Pilgrim’s, all of whom have been hit with the fire and rehire threat, it said.

The “savage scheme” was described as “outdated” with “no place in the modern world” by GMB.

“Workers are already terrified about how they will pay their bills – many are already relying on food banks,” said Perry Philips, GMB regional organiser. “This will make things so much worse.”

The company has already made 100 staff redundant with the closure of its Collett Way site in Southall, with the potential for this number to rise to 250 staff.

Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma described the proposed fire and rehire policy as “barbaric”.

“I’ve fought this outdated practice since the 1970s and it’s disgraceful to see it rear its ugly head once again, at a time when workers across the country face a deteriorating cost of living crisis,” he said.

Today’s parliamentary meeting marks the latest development in an increasingly fractious dispute between Pilgrim’s and its workers. It follows a vote from union members in February when workers “overwhelmingly rejected” new terms and conditions by a “considerable margin” in what was an escalating industrial dispute, GMB said at the time.

The union explained that the workers could not ballot on strike action because there was a “no-strike clause in the agreement”.

“This is a low-paid, predominantly female workforce – many of whose families have worked at Pilgrim’s for generations,” Philips added. “And this is the thanks they get? It’s outrageous.”

In response, a Pilgrim’s Food Masters spokeswoman said: “Against the backdrop of a difficult economic environment and declining volumes in our Chilled Meals business, we need to make changes that help sustain our business and safeguard the jobs of our people. Throughout this process, our aim has always been to secure the best possible outcome for our people, proposing only the minimum changes that are required to support the future viability of the business and bring our T&Cs in line with industry standards.”

She added the supplier was “still in the middle of the consultation, we continue to seek positive solutions with the GMB Union and are committed to retaining our current valued workforce”.