Ballot for strike action is premature

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As Unite prepare to ballot the Tayto workforce for strike action over the Living Wage, Manderley Food Group have issued a statement saying they believe the call for a ballot to strike is premature at this stage.

Sean McKeever, Unite officer for production and packaging workers at Tayto in Tandragee, has confirmed his union will proceed to ballot members over the refusal of owner, Manderley Food Group, to increase basic pay to the National Living Wage.

He said, “Manderley Food Group is behaving with complete disrespect to their Tayto workforce. Management are attempting to avoid raising basic pay to the new National Living Wage rate by counting a weekly bonus payment made entirely separate to the basic wage.

“This represents a fundamental break with their longstanding approach, which was to peg the wage at five pence above the current legal minimum.”

A spokesperson for the Manderley Food Group said, “Tayto always have respected and always will respect the laws of the land. We will comply fully with all legal requirements in respect of the new National Living Wage and are following the government, LRA and ACAS guidelines in so doing. From April 1, 2016 all colleagues entitled to receive the National Living Wage will receive it.

“We seek to treat all colleagues equally regardless of their location, while still being mindful of their historic and current terms and conditions.

“On the above basis, any call for a ballot for strike action seems premature as we agreed today to meet with the union again prior to April 1, 2016 and discuss how this would be implemented in practice.”

There was discontent last month as well with complaints about short time working.

An employee, who contacted the Portadown Times, said workers were “down money” and were concerned about their jobs.

Tayto issued a statement saying they hoped to return to a normal working pattern soon, after two months of short time working.

A spokesperson said there was always a drop in sales at the start of every new year.

She added, “In the months running up to Christmas, which is our busiest time, more staff work more hours and at the slowest time of year, we have to reduce accordingly.”