Food producer and leading employer Samworth Brothers has defended its proposals to change employment terms and conditions, potentially affecting thousands of workers at its Melton sites.
The firm is consulting staff on some new proposals but company bosses have dismissed claims that overtime is being abolished by 2018, adding that, if the proposals go ahead, they will still have premium payments for overtime and nights.
Thousands of staff work at the company’s Melton Foods, Brooksby Foods and Kettleby Foods sites, as well as its other Leicestershire sites.
Paul Davey, Samworth Brothers’ group executive board director responsible for personnel, said: “Samworth Brothers has always offered staff a very good total reward package, when one looks at the full picture of pay and available benefits, including pension, healthcare and other staff benefits. We are among the best in our sector.
“To ensure we continue to have a fair and well balanced pay structure in the future we are consulting with staff on some new proposals, including a move to a significantly higher standard rate of pay with some rebalancing of overtime and premium payments.
“The majority of our staff will be better off as a result of these proposals with a £1.05 per hour increase in their standard rate of pay. The business is also proposing to invest significant additional sums in the pay bill over the next few years to support the plan.
“This is only an internal consultation and there are no job changes or reductions proposed.”
He added: “One of the reasons we have put these proposals forward is that our staff have told us that their priority is a higher overall standard rate of pay, even though this might mean adjusting some of the other premiums.
“This is still at consultation stage. Nothing has been decided. We have been talking to staff at every step of the way. We have been thoroughly considering staff feedback and will be discussing a final proposal with them later this week.”
George Atwall, regional officer of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), said: “Reducing premium and overtime payments is detrimental for hard-working employees.
“We have been inundated with disgruntled employees wanting to join the BFAWU union for professional guidance.”
He added: “There are some very strong feelings among workers that they will be losing money.
“They’re saying they’re going to be worse off.”
The union has organised a meeting to be held at the Harboro Hotel on Saturday, 1pm to 4pm, where workers will be able to discuss their concerns.