More than 60 workers at Quorn’s meat-free paste production factory in Billingham, Teesside will begin all-out strike action this Thursday (20 October) in a dispute over a ‘derisory’ pay offer. The workers, members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, have already taken nine days of strike action in October over a 4% pay offer plus a one-off payment. The workers are seeking a 9% pay rise, which was the RPI inflation rate in April when negotiations began.
The strikes are expected to lead to shortages of Quorn products in supermarkets.
Quorn’s revenues for 2021 were £224.9 million, with gross profits of £88.9 million. The company is owned by Philippines-based Monde Nissin, which brought in record revenues of more than £1 billion during the same period. Quorn’s highest paid director was paid nearly £1.5 million.
Unite the union
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:
“The offer put forward by Quorn is a real-terms pay cut and completely unacceptable to Unite. Quorn and Monde Nissin can absolutely afford to put forward a better offer to ensure these workers are paid fairly. Our members are determined that they will do just that and they have Unite’s total and unwavering support during these strikes.”
Unite explains that the striking workers, including fermenter and chiller technicians, maintenance and laboratory staff and effluent treatment plant staff, are highly skilled and vital to the running of the factory.
Quorn’s attempts to undermine the strike by deploying managers to operate the factory have seen the production lines descend into ‘chaos’
The union has raised a number of serious safety concerns with the company, which, unless they are addressed, it will take to the Health and Safety Executive.
Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain said:
“When our members returned to work from the first round of strikes they found chaos on the production lines. We have notified the company of our serious safety concerns. Unless they are quickly rectified, we will be calling for the Health and Safety Executive to investigate.
“The best course of action is for the company to get the workers back to work by putting forward an offer that reflects rising living costs.”