STAFF sending Heinz beans to supermarkets around the country are set to walk out.
The four-day long strike starting on Monday (June 2) will be a blow for Heinz National Distribution, operated by subcontractors Wincanton Ltd.
The strike is being held by ‘Re Pack’ department workers belonging to the United Road Transport Union (URTU) who are employed by Wincanton.
This initial industrial action by 60 workers - to be followed by three more weeks of strike pending further negotiations - comes after a year-long dispute between management and staff at the huge centre in Martland Mill, almost in the shadow of the Heinz Kitt Green plant.
Union chiefs said today that it remained disappointed that the company had not increased the pay offer from the national Minimum Wage rate of £6.31.
It has been pressing since June to have it increased in line with the Living Wage figure which, for workers living outside London, is now £7.65.
National officer for URTU, Brian Hart, said that after a year of talks, Wincanton staff based at the Heinz NDC had now “lost patience” and said that the “overwhelming majority” of the membership had backed a call to take a programme of industrial action now set to start after the weekend.
He said: “The URTU believe that Wincanton, working on behalf of such a prestigious customer as HJ Heinz, do have the ability to pay the Living Wage for this group of workers, but chose not to.
“Once upon a time Heinz had an advertising logo of Beanz Meanz Heinz. Sadly for this group of workers it should now read Beanz Meanz Minimum Wage.”
A spokesman for HJ Heinz declined to comment on an issue “for Wincanton staff”.
Wincanton said: “We remain committed to an open dialogue with our employees and their representatives and we will continue to work towards a resolution of the dispute. In the meantime, comprehensive contingency plans are in place to ensure a negligible impact of strike action on customer service.”