Cereal workers being starved of legal entitlements
Unite is to take legal action against Austrian owned Mayr-Melnhof Packaging (MMP) over the unlawful dismissal of its workforce and closure of the site in Bootle, Liverpool.
The workers make packaging for some of the most popular breakfast cereals in the UK, including Frosties, Rice Krispies and Kellogg’s Cornflakes.
Unite says the conduct of the company is ‘among the most shameful it has encountered’. MMP has waged a war against the workforce, firstly locking them out of the factory, then sacking 53 workers in a concerted effort to break the workforce’s spirit and get them to accept poorer redundancy terms.
The culmination of this abuse came with the shock announcement that the plant was to shut. Unite has not been consulted over the decision to close the MMP site and this breaches both UK and European legal obligations.
Unite is arranging to issue an application in the Employment Tribunal claiming a protective award on behalf of all union members made redundant and the union will seek the maximum remedy of 13 weeks gross pay for each member.
In addition, it is likely that other legal claims will be pursued on behalf of the union and all individual members if the decision to dismiss the union’s members is not reversed. This will include claims of unfair dismissal and potentially claims arising under the TUPE Regulations.
The legal actions were agreed by a packed chapel meeting in Bootle on Sunday.
Unite region officer, Phil Morgan said: “Unite is appalled by the outrageous behaviour by Austrian-based MMP management. It is among the most shameful treatment of workers I have ever come across. MMP clearly thinks it is above the law.
“This is a new low in long-distance dismissal. Over a hundred loyal workers – some of whom have worked there for 30 years, since leaving school – were handed letters sacking them with only a moment’s notice. Such behaviour cannot be acceptable from employers, but when, as MMP is, it is a profitable company that behaves so disgracefully, we will challenge it. MMP owes our members money. In these desperately tough times, every penny is needed yet because of MMP’s greed, workers with young families now cannot pay their bills and mortgages. We now look to the courts to remind MMP that they cannot ignore its redundancy obligations and its duties to UK workers.”
The sacked workers have been in a dispute with MMP since the company imposed a lock out on 18th February. It unfairly selected 49 people for redundancy, forcing workers into accepting poorer redundancy terms. MMP then sacked four workers following a sham disciplinary hearing.
Donations can be made to the locked out workers via Sogat Process Fund, account number 50823171, sort code 20-10-84. Cheques to the hardship fund should be made payable to ‘Sogat Progress Fund’ and sent to to: Phil Morgan, Unite the Union, 2 Chantry Court, Forge Street, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 2DL