Hovis strike union claims up to 50% of NI bread supply is affected

Workers at the Hovis bread factory in Belfast are today in their fourth day of a strike, claiming their fellow employees in England are paid 10% more than they are.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 1:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 1:29 pm
Hovis workers hold strike action at the company factory on Apollo Road in south Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Sean McKeever, Unite Regional Officer, said the strike has by now emptied most shelves across NI of Hovis bread.

“We believe 95% of the workforce is out on strike of about 200 employees,” he told the News Letter.

“Our fellow employees in GB are being paid 10% more but this is the most profitable site in the company in the UK. It is a 24/7 operation. We have met the management just once in eight months.”

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He said the site is mainly managed from GB and that managers in NI have no authority over pay levels to break the strike.

He said NI shelves are now all but empty of Hovis and they were to meet management this afternoon.

“Hovis say they supply 35% of bread across NI but we believe it could be as high as 50% as so many other brands are also supplied from this factory.”

A spokesman for Hovis said there was no change in their position since last week, when notice of the strike was publicised.

A Hovis spokesperson commented: “Unions representing some of the staff at our Belfast site are continuing their strike action.

“We remain disappointed that the Unions were not prepared to put to vote an above inflation pay offer of 3% each year for two years to our colleagues and their members. We stand by the fact that this was a fair and reasonable offer given the current market conditions. The claim made by both unions is for a 10.5% pay increase, with additional elements taking it to approximately 15%, which is clearly unsustainable. We remain open to negotiations that reach a conclusion.”

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