Socialist Worker

Grampian Foods gives lean deal to its workers

Issue No. 1970

On the picket line in Haverhill last week (Pic: Valerio Berdini)

On the picket line in Haverhill last week (Pic: Valerio Berdini)

Workers at Europe’s biggest supermarket meat supplier struck on Friday of last week to defend their pensions.

Members of the T&G union at the Grampian Foods’ site in Haverhill, Suffolk, picketed the plant.

However, the action was called off halfway through the one-day action as bosses threatened to challenge the legality of the ballot.

Whatever the outcome of the legal challenge, the plight of the Grampian Foods workers has highlighted the attacks taking place on private sector pensions.

The dispute began when the company announced plans to wind up the “final salary” pension scheme, replacing it with an inferior “money purchase” scheme.

Workers stand to lose thousands of pounds if the changes go ahead.

The union’s senior shop steward at the site, Peter Inwood, has worked for the company for 20 years. He said, “The new pension is not beneficial to workers who have shown commitment and loyalty to the company.

“But bosses have become aware that loyalty brings old age, which means the workforce is going to get slower. This is their way of getting rid of us and I know some who have already left.

“Closing the pension plan costs people who have shown loyal service.

“Staff morale is the lowest it has ever been on this site and this is the final straw.”

Pauline Allen, 55, said she would now have to work until she was 65. “This change of pension has robbed me of thousands, and put on an extra few years to my working life,” she said.

The legal challenge is believed to hinge upon the way the company’s name appears on the ballot paper.

Union officials say that they will win a stronger mandate for strike action if they are forced to reballot.

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Sat 1 Oct 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1970
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