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About 80 employees at the company’s factories in Kettering and Corby will take part in a series of one day strikes during June, July and August over what the union calls ‘fire and rehire plans’.

The union claimed that the new contracts would result in major cuts in shift allowances, with affected engineers set to lose £5,000 a year. Other concerns were raised surrounding health and safety at the site, due to a lower number of engineers who would be on duty at certain times.

The spat between Weetabix and Unite coincides with disputes between the union and a small number of food and drink manufacturers since last year about so-called ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.

Jacobs Douwe Egberts and Hovis

Strikes have been held at Jacobs Douwe Egberts’ production site in Banbury since April, after the coffee maker announced proposals to dismiss and re-engage staff – a consultation which ended this week.

Meanwhile, last month, Hovis shot down demands for an ‘unsustainable’ pay rise at its Belfast plant​, as workers unions warned a planned strike would cause shortages of its products across Northern Ireland.

Unite regional officer Sean Kettle said: “Our members are well aware that these fire and rehire attacks are simply an opportunistic response to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

‘Unacceptable behaviour’

“They are incensed at the company’s unacceptable behaviour, which is especially galling given their pivotal role in keeping Weetabix’s plants operating during the worst of the pandemic.”

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