Heinz pay talks stall: More strikes on the way

FURTHER Heinz strikes have been announced after talks aimed at solving a pay dispute broke down.

More than 1,200 striking production workers at the giant Kitt Green plant won a key concession at Wednesday’s meeting with bosses.

But the removal of the threat to the productivity bonus scheme, which paid up to £2,000 per worker this year, wasn’t enough to see union leaders at Unite recommending calling off industrial action.

Workers are now planning to go ahead with two new 24-hour stoppages on Wednesday, December 29 and January 5.

The union claims that with massive profits, Europe’s biggest canned foods plant can afford to improve its wage offer. They have estimated that the firm loses almost two million cans of baked beans and soups during each day of stoppage, costing the firm at least £1m.

But Heinz claim that their updated pay offer is one of the highest in the industry and builds on some of the best packages in the sector. They say the current offer to factory workers is equivalent to four per cent this year and three per cent in 2011.

A company spokesman said: “The pay talks resulted in a revised offer being put to the Unite union negotiating team, including the reinstatement of a performance-related bonus.

“Unite has rejected the offer and are not willing to put it forward for consideration by Heinz workers. We are extremely disappointed.”

But Heinz Kitt Green Unite convenor Ian Wright said that his members still feel they can’t recommend acceptance of the deal. He said that the union leaders were always ready for new talks with bosses to settle the dispute, and senior stewards have cancelled their Christmas holidays.

Mr Wright said: “The deal has not improved in reality and that is why it has been rejected.”