Animal feed firm staff plan strike action over pay and conditions

Animal feed firm AB Agri is facing strike action in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Unite workers’ union said nearly 50 workers at a Suffolk plant backed industrial action over a “draconian” workplace agreement. The ballot closes on Friday 22 July.

In a statement released on Monday (4 July), Unite said its members, who work in animal feed production and transport, face increases in working time, cuts to their annual holidays and the withdrawal of incentive payments.

See also: A legal guide to employing farm staff

Drivers are being told they must increase their working day from 12 to 15 hours and the mill staff are having two days docked from their annual leave entitlement, the union added.

Unite regional officer Steve Harley said: “What we are seeing here is a concerted attack by the management of a very profitable international company on the pay and terms and conditions of our members.

“Industrial action is always a last resort and is only taken when workers have been pushed against the wall.”

Unite has accused AB Agri management of trying to erode the terms and conditions of workers’ contracts that have evolved over many years without a proper consultation with a recognised trade union or the employees.

But Mr Harley added: “Unite’s door for talks is always open, as long the management intends to negotiate in good faith.

“And it should not be forgotten that the Bury St Edmunds operation is financially very healthy.”

According to its website, AB Agri is the agricultural division of ABF, a diversified, international food, ingredients and retail group with sales of £13.3bn and more than 113,000 employees in 47 countries.

A spokesman for AB Agri said: “We have been working with employees and trade unions over the past three months to bring in new workplace agreements at our 11 ABN monogastric feed mills in the UK, which includes our site in Bury St Edmunds.
“We have been open in our consultation approach and will continue to work together to achieve a fair outcome for all.”

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