Biscuit workers set to go on strike

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MORE than 300 staff at a Blackpool biscuit factory will strike as part of a dispute over pay.

Union bosses have confirmed 86 per cent of members voted to take action at Burton’s Foods.

Staff at the Devonshire Road factory – home to the iconic Wagon Wheel, Maryland Cookies, Jammie Dodger (pictured) and Cadbury’s Finger brands among others – say they are paid less than the firm’s employees at four other UK centres and claim bosses had seen their money almost double while offering workers only a 1.8 per cent rise.

They will walk out on July 12, 18, 20 and 26, will work to rule and offer no overtime.

Union leaders have criticised the manufacturer’s bosses claiming they have accepted pay deals significantly higher than those offered to shop floor staff.

However, bosses at the firm say they are hoping to negotiate a settlement with staff ahead of the first of the four strikes planned so far.

Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, said staff at the Layton site were angry at their pay offer after finding out about deals accepted by bosses.

He said: “This is 86 per cent of the staff in favour of taking action – that’s pretty decisive.

“But they are disappointed they have to resort to this path – they were wanting to get the matter resolved.

“It’s not long ago that we saw a report stating that five directors had 95 per cent pay increases – and the workers have been offered a 1.8 per cent rise.

“There are lots of other issues to be addressed, along with increases in the senior managers’ pay.”

The Gazette has been told all staff except engineers will take part, and drivers will refuse to deliver to the site if it means crossing a picket line.

One worker said: “It’s outrageous to know that while we’re down here working as hard as we do, the people in the glass houses upstairs are seeing their pay rocket – and almost double.

“With the increases we are seeing in everything at the moment – petrol, food and power bills especially – we’re losing out all of the time.

“We want them to recognise that what we do is a vital part of the company’s success and offering us what they have is nothing short of an insult.”

A spokesman for Burton’s Foods said: “Burton’s Foods is aware of proposed industrial action by BFAWU members at its Blackpool facility.

“The company remains committed to trying to find a negotiated settlement with the BFAWU and its members and will continue to work with the union over the coming weeks to achieve this.”

The strikes follow the national public sector walkout on Thursday last week when schools across the Fylde coast closed and pensions workers formed picket lines at Norcross and Warbreck, in a row over proposed changes to their pensions.