British sugar faces union strike vote

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THE UK’s biggest union is calling for British Sugar workers at Bury St Edmunds to vote whether to strike, after they turned down a 3.5 percent pay offer.

Unite will ballot 250 members from four factories in the east of England whether industrial action is needed to secure the pay deal they want.

The union is seeking a pay deal equal to retail price index (RPI) inflation, currently running at five per cent, plus 0.5 per cent for the year April 2011 to April 2012.

The ballot is due to take place within the next six weeks.

Unite regional officer, Tony Ellingford, said: “Unite feels this is an important issue because our members are not happy.

“Members feel they are in a successful business making a healthy profit and are almost being held to ransom by the economy.

“Even with the new offer workers would be taking what amounts to a pay cut - they are offering something that is below inflation.

“These people work all year long for the company and rightly expect a share of the profits.

“You cannot have a company that says for 20-30 years that they can pay on their results and then, because the economy had got problems, forget how well they are doing and that they still make a good profit.”

A spokesman for British Sugar said: “British Sugar has been in active pay negotiations with the Trade Unions representing our unionised employees since March 2011.

“We have worked extremely hard with the Trade Unions to secure an offer that we firmly believe is fair and reasonable within the current economic conditions, and is above average pay awards in the external market place.

“British Sugar has undertaken all necessary steps to mitigate any disruption to our four processing factories and the delivery of our products to our customers.”