Cider giants Bulmers have announced plans to axe almost a quarter of its Hereford workforce.
Despite reporting a relatively stable market, the cider makers said that new working practices were essential for keeping the Hereford site ‘competitive’; business-speak for socially irresponsible.
Bulmers have said that as part of a consultation in September a ballot was carried out and the results were in favour of plant modernisation. Would they have voted yes if the threat of job losses had been clearly spelt out?
Elsewhere, postal workers are gearing up for the first national postal dispute in two years after threats to jobs, hours and pay. Actions so far in sorting offices, which have included sit-ins, have seen some 20 million letters being undelivered. Seventy-six percent of union members balloted voted in favour of national strike action, due to begin on 22nd October. “Royal Mail’s head-in-the-sand attitude to the problems in our industry is now severely damaging service for customers – with backlogs bigger than in the national strike of 2007,” said a spokesperson for the Communication Workers’ Union.
Elsewhere workers at a Black Country food-processing firm are hailing the success of an unofficial walkout, forcing management to sack a security guard accused of making racist comments and to come to the negotiating table. More than 100 staff at Smethwick-based Two Sisters Foods staged a wildcat strike and police were called as their protest threatened to get out of hand. There was a further demonstration outside the firm’s premises before bosses agreed to meet senior officials from trade union Unite.
Leeds City Council plans to cut the wages of refuse workers by one third – on average from £18,000 to just £13,000 a year. Not surprisingly workers have responded by taking strike action after the council refused to negotiate any alternative to these massive pay cuts. A spokesperson from Unison said: “If they were imposed on our members, hundreds of workers and their families would lose their homes.” In mid-September activists dumped bags of rubbish on the doorstep of the council leader. At the time of going to press, the strike has entered its fifth week with no signs of letting up any time soon.
Gas workers in Newcastle struck last month over the National Grid bosses’ decision to make mass redundancies and consider outsourcing. All of the 181 shared services staff at the city site, who risk joining the dole queue, voted in favour of industrial action. The strikes may be set to spread as staff at offices in Warwick and Northampton, who also face being effected, are among 2,500 other National Grid members who voted 40 to one in support of the action in a ballot.