Tesco protesters hope “Every little helps” to end supplier’s lockout

by - 15th March 2012, 7.30 BST

Food industry workers supplying the supermarket giant Tesco are to demonstrate outside a major industry conference in London today as part of a campaign over redundancy payments.

Unite members working for a Birkenhead meat processing plant recently acquired by Tulip Ltd are joining a protest outside the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) Forum.

The workforce, numbering more than 200, has been locked out for more than a week, since Tulip management boarded up the site.

It claimed unprecedented ‘operational difficulties’ had prompted Tesco to refuse to take any further produce from the site, which had received a seal of approval from the supermarket chain only months before.

Union officials suspect the company was ‘looking for an excuse’ to close down the former Tranfood unit.

The ETI forum brings together leading companies to ensure workers’ rights are respected in the global clothing, food and electronics supply chain.

Tulip supplies cooked meats to Tesco which is a signatory of the ETI base code – a serious commitment to improving working conditions in their supply chains.

Unite members will be highlighting Tulip’s behaviour towards the 218 staff who look likely to lose their jobs.

Workers are angry that after just 38 days of ownership, Tulip proposed to close down the meat packaging site and is now reneging on the enhanced redundancy package agreed with the trade unions.  Tulip said that it would be moving production from the Wirral to another Tesco approved site in Bodmin, Cornwall.

Unite is seeking an urgent meeting with Tesco to explain their involvement in the closure of the Birkenhead plant.

Regional officer, Franny Joyce, said: “We are making a stand against Tulip’s unfair treatment of its workers.

“Our members deserve to be treated fairly and we will not tolerate this unacceptable behaviour towards them.

“Unite is seeking urgent meetings with Tesco to explain their involvement in this closure and to ensure that workers employed in its supply chain are treated with dignity and respect at work.”