Hull cake firm Greencore facing payout of up to £1.2m after refusing to lift pay freeze
MORE than 400 workers at a cake firm in Hull have won a £1.2m legal battle after a company refused to lift a pay freeze.
Greencore, a key supplier of cakes and desserts to major supermarkets, is being forced to pay out after losing an employee tribunal against trade union Unite.
In 2010, workers at Greencore's factory in east Hull agreed to temporarily suspend premium pay rates to help the company during the recession.
But the company refused to revert back to the workers' original terms of employment after the deadline had passed and now face compensating its workforce.
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Unite national officer Jennie Formby said the result was the end of a long and arduous process.
She said: "It's great news the workers at this cake and dessert supplier to the country's best- known supermarkets eventually got justice.
"This situation could have been avoided if Greencore had listened to the union and adhered to some basic ethical principles.
"Unite was not going to allow Greencore to break the law, attack union rights and the terms and conditions of the lowest-paid workers in society."
Unite accused Greencore of impoverishing its workers by refusing to reinstate the payments when the majority were on the national minimum wage, claims that were refuted by the company.
Greencore Cakes and Desserts announced in May that 236 jobs may go at its east Hull site and entered a 90-day consultation with workers who, at the time, faced being replaced by those from agencies.
Now, workers are waiting to hear how much money they will receive of the estimated £1.2m.
Miss Formby said: "This isn't the end of the matter and our members are now discussing next steps in the union campaign to restore fairness to the contracts of employment that were unilaterally and unfairly changed by Greencore after Unite pledged to mount this legal challenge."
The news has been welcomed by workers at the site in Amsterdam Road.
A factory worker, who did not wish to be named, said the decision is a huge relief.
"This has been going on for so long. It has been awful not knowing if my job was safe," they said.
"Hopefully now we can all get on with working and enjoying our lives again."
However, a spokesman for Greencore said no payout has been finalised.
"This is an ongoing dispute with the union regarding premium rates," he said.
"Greencore acknowledges the recent decision but it is very important to note the case has not concluded and, in particular, no specific claim has been agreed or stipulated by the tribunal.
"Further tribunal meetings are scheduled to take place over the next few months to bring the case to conclusion.
"We believe the management has a good dialogue with our colleagues at the Hull facility and our priority continues to focus on securing the long-term sustainability of the site and employment for the area."