Striking Cranswick butchers 'face 20% pay cut', GMB claims
BUTCHERS at a Preston food factory are striking over pay cuts.
Staff at Cranswick Country Foods are facing a cut of about 20 per cent, according to union GMB.
The company's management is canceling previous contracts and asking staff to reapply for their positions under what the union says are less favourable terms.
Butchers are now on strike for two days of their five-day working week.
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GMB officer Dave Oglesby said: "We don't want to be in this position but we've been backed into a corner.
"The company has issued a notice to terminate contracts and re-engage on new terms, which result in significant pay cuts.
"Once these changes have been contracted, they could cut the pay again."
He said the union had already negotiated a better deal than the one first proposed.
Mr Oglesby said: "We started at 30 per cent. We've had some negotiation but the cuts are still in the 20 per cent range."
The officer said butchers are highly skilled staff and have already endured a long pay freeze.
He said: "They work on a production line, they're butchers and it's dangerous work."
Company managing director Chris Aldersley said Cranswick Country Foods had invested in its facilities to make the lives of staff easier.
He said: "We've done a number of investments across the site which have resulted in better working conditions.
"We've consulted at length with GMB before coming to these terms."
Cranswick Country Foods made a pre-tax profit of £48.4 million in the year ending March 31, up three per cent on the previous year.
But Mr Aldersley said the company was a rare success story in its industry and the new terms were competitive.
He said: "We operate very ethically. We're regularly audited by external and internal bodies and we run what's seen as a fit and safe business.
"The last investment we did here actually increased the workforce. This is about making sure we have got a sustainable future."
GMB said Cranswick Country Foods originally planned to cut butchers' pay to £9.50 an hour but it had negotiated that up.
Mr Oglesby said: "It would be a flat rate of something like £11 an hour but they will be doing more dangerous work faster."
The strike, which sees staff off work on Thursday and Friday, could continue until mid-October.
There are 78 GMB members affected by the cuts and 95 per cent of them voted for industrial action.
Cranswick Country Foods employs about 1,200 people.