British Sugar workers face strike action

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UNION members at a company in Bury St Edmunds are to be balloted on whether to take industrial action, it was announced today.

Unite, the largest union in the country, will ballot its 250 members based at four British Sugar plants in the east of England, including its plant in Bury, after the work force rejected a 3.5 per cent pay offer.

Unite 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 balloting on its members, who include engineers and production staff, will take place within the next month to determine whether to take strike action or industrial action short of a strike.

Unite regional officer Tony Ellingford said: ”British Sugar is a highly profitable company and, despite its complaints that the sugar beet crop was hit by the bad weather during the winter, the company is well able to afford a decent pay rise.

”Our members rejected the 3.5 per cent because it was well below the current rate of inflation. Household and energy bills are soaring and in rural East Anglia, with poor public transport links, employees have to use their cars to get to work and are particularly hard pressed by ever-rising petrol costs.

”Unite is keen to sit down with management to reach a fair and equitable agreement.“

The other plants affected are Wissingham, near King’s Lynn, Cantley, near Great Yarmouth and Newark in Nottinghamshire.