Production of millions of cans of Heinz beans and other foods will be shut down this week as more than 1,000 workers at the company plant in Wigan are set to strike.
Unite union members at Heinz’s Kitt Green site were to down tools for 24 hours from 10pm on Wednesday 15 December in a crucial battle over pay.
Workers’ anger was made clear in a recent 90 percent vote for action. A 500-strong mass meeting on Saturday 11 December voted unanimously to support the strike.
“The mood was buoyant and many people volunteered for picket line duty,” Ian Wright, Unite’s deputy convenor at the site, told Socialist Worker. “By Monday there was nothing on the table from management.”
Bosses have offered staff a below-inflation pay offer of 3.3 percent this year, when shareholders got a dividend of 9 percent. The company’s operating income grew by almost 10 percent to nearly £255 million.
“The strike will result in two million lost cans, which will result in Heinz products losing shelf space in the supermarket,” says Ian.
“We’ve had loads of support from other union branches. We need to fight back, as things are becoming reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s time.”
Ian says that workers’ support for the action is so strong that many have decided to donate their union strike pay to a local charity.
Jennie Formby, Unite national officer for food and drink, describes the mood as “angry and determined”.
“Heinz has left our members with no choice but to stand firm and fight for a fair pay deal,” she says. “The company is treating its loyal and long serving workforce disgracefully.
“It’s our members that helped the company make its vast
profits, yet it is still refusing to table an improved offer that reflects their hard work. Unless Heinz forks out a fairer deal, then strike action will go ahead.”
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