Union warns of possible bread shortages in Northern Ireland

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Workers are downing tools at the south Belfast site after unions rejected an "inadequate" last-ditch pay offer. Pic: Hovis
Workers are downing tools at the south Belfast site after unions rejected an "inadequate" last-ditch pay offer. Pic: Hovis

Related tags: Hovis, Unite union, bread shortages, Northern ireland

A strike at Northern Ireland’s largest bread-manufacturing plant, compounded with the red tape in importing bread from England, is likely to cause bread shortages this weekend.

Unite has confirmed an all-out strike action by Hovis workers is going ahead after management’s offer of a 3% pay raise was rejected by workforce reps.

According to Sean McKeever, regional officer for Unite, the ‘inadequate’ last-ditch pay offer does not deliver on pay parity with Hovis employees in Great Britain.

McKeever said a 10% pay increase would have addressed members’ demands for pay parity with GB workers, however, a ‘totally inadequate’ 3% was placed on the table.

“Hovis is a hugely successful company that reported pre-tax profits at the end of last year of £19.2m. There is no excuse for treating their workers in Northern Ireland any differently to those in Great Britain. Their workforce in Northern Ireland have a legitimate expectation of being paid on an equal basis to workers in Great Britain.”

Workers are set to down tools from today, which McKeever noted will have a significant and immediate impact on bread supplies in Northern Ireland. Post-Brexit barriers in importing bread from mainland UK are likely to compound the situation.

He added that baking activities at the Belfast factory have already stopped.

“This strike is likely to lead to bread shortages as early as this weekend.”

Related topics: Bread, Industry Voices, Manufacturers

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