Unite targets supermarkets, shareholders in escalating MMP dispute

Amid widening anger within Unite over employer's conduct of the 2-month dispute, officials are targeting supermarkets and international shareholders to try to force MMP back to redundancy talks
by - 4th April 2012, 7.33 BST

Unite officials and supporters have begun a campaign of protests targeted at supermarkets and other sits to highlight the plight of the 150 locked out MMP print workers on Merseyside.

(Pictured: Unite members leaflet shoppers at Waitrose store in Glasgow)

The workers make packaging for household-name brands of breakfast cereals such as Frosties, Rice Krispies and Kellogg’s Cornflakes.

What is intended to be a series of high-profile public demonstrations follows the company’s annoucement last week that it plans to close the Bootle site altogether.

Protests on Thursday are directly targeting one of MMP’s main customers: Kelloggs, with demonstrations at sites in Manchester, Bristol and Wrexham.

The company has blamed the loss of a key contract with Kelloggs for the latest round of job cuts at Bootle.

The union is also preparing legal action against what it describes as the ‘rogue, aristocratic-owned’ company at the centre of the 5-week lockout.

Amid widening anger at senior levels of the union over the conduct of the company, Unite is also calling on the Norwegian government – which has an 0.88% stake in the Austrian-owned company – to urge the employers to restart negotiations on a fair redundancy settlement for the workforce.

Unite is telling MMP shareholders, which include the financial services firm Axa, the asset manager Blackrock Inc. and French bank, BNP Paribas that management has broken UK law and international labour standards.

In a letter to the shareholders, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey says the proposed closure of a critical manufacturing site in an area of high unemployment is causing great concern.

Targeted demonstrations began around the country including in Glasgow, this morning.

Senior Scottish organiser Roz Foyer said: “Unite has been left with no option but to forcefully counter against this rogue employer.

“We will simply not stand by and let workers in this country be treated with such contempt.

“Those involved with MMP need to know the type of business they are associating themselves with and the general public need to know of the suppression of workers and their basic employment rights in 21st century Britain.

“We’re not going to go away on this. We will demonstrate at all businesses associated either directly or indirectly with MMP in the UK and Ireland for as long as the company refuses to negotiate in good faith.”

The union is preparing an Employment Tribunal application, claiming protective awards for all its members made redundant at the Bootle site, seeking the maximum remedy of 13 weeks gross pay for each worker.