Belfast bread workers set to strike over pay claims

Staff at Hovis in Belfast plan an all-out strike from this Friday

SCORES of staff at the Hovis site on Belfast's Boucher Road are planning an all-out strike from this Friday in a move which could potentially impact on bread supplies across the north.

Workers are in dispute with management over demands for a 5.1 per cent pay claim, and in a ballot conducted by the Unite union, 88 per cent voted for strike action, with pickets set to go up at one minute past midnight.

Unite regional officer Sean McKeever said: “If you strip away their shift premiums, bonuses and overtime payments, workers at Hovis' Boucher Road site have a basic pay rate 90 pence below the national minimum wage. As such, in recent pay negotiations, the workers are seeking a pay uplift of 5.1 per cent, equivalent to 37 pence an hour on their basic rate.

“Unfortunately management have completely failed to address those legitimate pay expectations in recent pay talks. Bosses refused to meet the pay claim and instead offered a meagre 23p an hour uplift (3.2 per cent).

“In effect, bosses are forcing workers to the gate for less than 14p an hour in terms of a differential, which is both scandalous and an insult to the workforce.

“The strike action will be continuous. It is an all-out strike as the workers are determined to secure themselves fair pay. This is a fight they cannot afford to lose but is likely to result in considerable disruption to this company's ability to provide bread across Northern Ireland for the duration.”

The Belfast site employs around 250 people, and produces bread, rolls, pancakes, hot cross buns, fruit bread and farls in own-brand bakery products for Hovis, Ormo and Mother's Pride as well as own-label for M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Lidl.

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