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Strike ballot threat over pay at Kingsmill bakery in West Bromwich

By Simon Penfold | West Bromwich | Business | Published:

Union bosses have threatened a strike vote at a Kingsmill bakery in West Bromwich unless the company improves a pay offer to workers.

More than 150 drivers and engineers working at Allied Bakery's Kingsmill depot in Birmingham Road will be balloted for industrial action unless the bread maker makes a cost of living pay offer, Britain’s largest union, Unite has warned.

Allied Bakeries has said it is 'disappointed' at the union's action and believes it has made a good offer to the site's drivers.

Unite says the workers, who supply Kingsmill bread to Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco across the Midlands and the North West, have grown "increasingly frustrated" with the firm since pay talks started in May.

Warning that its members were at "breaking point", Unite said it was highly likely that members would back industrial action in a strike vote.

Unite regional officer Joe Clarke said: “Unite members have become increasingly frustrated by Kingsmill and the bosses’ refusal to recognise their hard work with a cost of living pay rise.

“To add insult to injury we also have issues surrounding pay parity within the West Bromwich depot and pay inequality with other depots around the UK, in addition to the use of sub-contractors.

“Kingsmill should be under no illusion. Our members are highly likely to vote for strike action if given the opportunity, with strike action having a major impact on bread supplies to major supermarkets, such as Co-op and Tesco.

“With workers’ pay packets getting squeezed because of inflation its time that Kingsmill stopped dragging its feet and offered a cost of living pay rise to these loyal hard working workers.”

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Following a £25m investment, completed three years ago, Allied Bakeries' site in West Bromwich is its biggest UK bakery and employs around 400 people in total.

Allied Bakeries is part of Associated British Foods. An Allied Bakeries spokesman said: “We have been discussing remuneration with our drivers at Allied Bakeries West Bromwich and their unions since May 2017.

"Unfortunately, we haven’t yet been able to bring about a resolution that is satisfactory to all parties and we are disappointed that the West Bromwich branch of Unite has chosen to ballot for industrial action.

"We have made what we believe is a good offer to the drivers at the West Bromwich site, which is comparable to those offers accepted by all other locations in the UK.

"We are always open to discussions with our employees and have invited our drivers to join us for further conversations. We don’t expect this situation to cause any disruption to bread supply for our customers or consumers.”

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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