Park Cakes has rejected claims by the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) that its success in winning a multi-million pound contract from Marks & Spencer (M&S) was driving the firm’s bid to cut workers’ pay and conditions at its Oldham bakery, near Manchester and pave the way for the introduction of cheap agency labour.
The BFAWU said in a statement last week: “It has come to the attention of the BFAWU today [February 7] that Park Cakes has acquired a lucrative order amounting to somewhere in the region of £40M.
“Although this investment is welcome, it has strengthened the union’s belief that the company is driving down terms and conditions at the site and attacking the union in an effort to bring in cheap agency labour in order to carry out this new work.”
But a spokesman for Park Cakes told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Like many organisations in the public and private sector Park Cake Bakeries has put in place a pay freeze across the board to ensure that the company has remained competitive in a very tough market.”
Zero hours contracts
No staff employed directly by Park Cake Bakeries are on zero hours contracts or ever have been, he added. “It is not true that the company has appointed a new agency or eroded terms and conditions.”
The union claimed Park Cakes managers had recently signed a new agency agreement diluting “what little rights” agency workers have. “Existing members of staff are having notice served on many of their agreements. We believe that this is part of a union busting process to kill off the BFAWU at the bakery.”
In recent weeks, the firm had closed the BFAWU’s union office and learning centre at the Oldham bakery, it claimed.
The union also highlighted rumours about the firm’s commitment to the Oldham bakery, following sale of the land. “There is an increasing belief the site is being prepared for sale or closure,” it said.
‘Security of existing jobs’
But the firm’s spokesman told this website: “Park Cake Bakeries’ recent contract win with Marks & Spencer underscores the company’s commitment to the Oldham bakery, and the award of new business adds to the security of existing jobs at the site.
“Park Cake Bakeries has had a long and fruitful relationship as a supplier of quality cakes and desserts to Marks & Spencer and we are pleased that partnership will continue with the award of M&S’s cakes and desserts business, primarily to our site in Oldham.”
The BFAWU has called a meeting of its members at the Oldham site on Saturday February 22 in order to decide what to do next. A legal team from Thompsons solicitors will also attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, Park Cakes won the contract from Marks & Spencer, after the retailer axed its contract with 2 Sisters Food Group’s Avana Bakeries in Newport, Wales.
The 2 Sisters Food Group said that the loss of the contract threatened 650 jobs at the site.