|Unite members working for Jacobs Douwe Egberts are today on strike over fire-and-rehire.
Almost 300 workers at the company’s Banbury site have refused to sign new contracts, which could see some of them losing up to £12,000 a year. They have this week been issued dismissal notices
Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: “The company has announced its notice to dismiss the entire workforce by using unscrupulous ‘fire and rehire’ tactics. This move comes on the back of an unprecedented level of commitment by our members throughout the Covid crisis keeping the nation supplied with coffee, as demand soared by an estimated 40%.
“We can only describe the company’s greed-driven approach as a result of a culture of corporate gangsterism by this highly profitable Dutch-owned company.
“We will escalate strike action in the weeks ahead until the company withdraws these notices and enters into constructive dialogue with Unite to chart a way forward that does not cause economic and social havoc to Banbury and the wider economy.
“We strongly dispute JDE’s claim that half of the affected workers will be £4,000 better off on average – we stand by our position that the new contracts could see some of our members lose up to £12,000 a year in pay – and, in some cases, their homes.”
Unite represents the 291 workers under threat and, so far, there has been a 72-hour strike and two 24-hour strikes, as well as a continuous over time ban that has been in place since May 1.
The union is running a national campaign to get the government to outlaw the practice, in line with other competitor countries, to give UK workers protection. A recent Survation poll for Unite found seven in 10 want the practice banned.
Unite assistant general secretary for politics and legal, Howard Beckett, said: “It’s quite clear that the public is firmly on the side of working people when it comes to the horrific practice of fire and rehire.
“There is no grey area here. They see that this is an objectionable practice that should be banned. The government has to get on the same page as voters on this and fast.”