Strike action on the cards for newly-formed retail bakery manufacturer over disputed worker’s pay

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Nottingham's Riverside Bakery produces flans, sausage rolls and quiches for some of the UK's largest retail chains. Pic: GettyImages/jabiru
Nottingham's Riverside Bakery produces flans, sausage rolls and quiches for some of the UK's largest retail chains. Pic: GettyImages/jabiru

Related tags The Compleat Food Group Riverside Bakery Unite the union Strike action Addo Food Group PAI Partners Winterbotham Darby Retailers Chilled foods

Unite has balloted more than 150 workers at Riverside Bakery – owned by The Compleat Food Group – over a pay cut allegedly disguised as a rise.

More than 150 workers at Riverside Bakery are being balloted for strike action (from today until 8 March) over a pay offer that would leave them worse off by reducing overtime and premium rates, said the union.

The Nottingham bakery is a major producer of quiches, flans and savoury tarts for some of the UK’s largest retail chains, including Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Marks and Spencer.

‘I doubt customers will be impressed’

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the offer is a ‘serious attack on its members’ premium rates’.

“This offer is a pay cut disguised as a rise. It would leave our members, who are already struggling with low pay and soaring inflation, worse off,” ​said Graham.

“I doubt customers will be impressed to learn that the quiches they buy in Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and other supermarkets are being made by workers on the breadline.

“Riverside Bakery should be aware that if our members vote for strike action, Unite will have their backs with all the support they need.”

The Nottingham bakery is part of newly formed company, created from the merger of Winterbotham Darby and Addo Food Group, which was bought by private equity firm PAI Partners in 2020.

According to Paul Monk, executive chair of The Compleat Food Group, the move sees the two come together under a matrix organisational structure to strengthen its plans to become the UK’s No1 Chilled Prepared Food Company.

The Compleat Food Group claims the offer it made was ‘very favourable’.

“After extensive talks, The Compleat Food Group made a very favourable offer of an increase to hourly rates for the colleagues at Riverside Bakery which was rejected by the Union,” ​a spokesperson told BakeryandSnacks.

“To enhance the previous offers, the final offer from the business included the fixing of overtime premiums at the 2021 rates. This was a move to further enhance hourly rates and increase differentials in advance of the forthcoming increase to the national minimum wage.”

In-work poverty

Unite regional officer Cheryl Pidgeon added, “Riverside Bakery and their new owners, PAI Partners, can well afford to ensure that their already low paid workers’ financial woes are not further increased.

“With the rising cost-of-living many will be plunged – if they are not there already – into in-work poverty under the current pay offer. Riverside Bakery need to put forward a deal our members can accept before this dispute escalates further.” 

Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions.

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