Jacob’s Liverpool staff consider all-out strike

Workers at the Jacob’s cracker and biscuit factory in Liverpool start industrial action in pay dispute and consider all-out strike action. Tony McDonough reports

A banner at the Jacob’s factory in Aintree where workers are taking action


Hundreds of workers at the Jacob’s factory in Aintree have started industrial action in a dispute over a pay rise and are considering all-out strike action.

Jacob’s employs almost 700 people at the plant producing Cream Crackers, Club biscuits, Twiglets, Jaffa Cakes cake bars, Mini Cheddars and Cracker Crisps. 554 workers voted in a ballot to take action over a 3.75% pay offer. 485 people voted in favour of taking action and are seeking closer to 8.5%.

On September 26 staff began action that initially stops short of an overall walkout. There are four individual shifts at the factory. Workers on each shift are walking out for one day each week. The same pattern will continue this week but may be escalated if the company does not budge.

One worker told LBN: “The current pay offer falls well short of what is needed. Look at the prices in the shops and gas and electricity bills. People are struggling to get by.”

Jacob’s, which can produce up to 6,000 cream crackers every minute, was started in Waterford in Ireland in 1851. Its UK operation became a separate business in 1922. It became part of Associated Biscuits in 1960 and then Nabisco in 1982, followed by Danone. United Biscuits acquired the business in 2004.

Private equity firms Blackstone and PAI bought United Biscuits for £1.6bn in 2006. In 2014, United Biscuits was acquired by Turkish group Yildiz for a reported £2bn. It is run by a division of the business called Pladis, whose other brands include McVitie’s Biscuits.

Lisa Ryan, a full-time officer with the GMB union, told LBN the lack of engagement from the company was “really frustrating”. She added: “We have gone above and beyond to try to reach a resolution to this – but there is nothing coming from the company right now.

“This goes back to November/December last year and there should have been an agreement in place by January this year. Other unions at other factories operated by the company have able to agree pay offers but not here and we don’t know why.

“Sometimes people in Liverpool get a bad reputation but our members at the factory have been beyond reasonable. They don’t want to stand outside in the cold for 12 hours and lose money.

“We have supplied the company with details of our action for the next six weeks. Our members want to avoid stepping up this action and we are always open to further dialogue. But if there is no sign of any agreement than our members are prepared to go all out.”

A spokesperson for Pladis added: “GMB members at our factory in Aintree have taken part in strike action this week. We are continuing to proactively engage with our employees and their representatives to seek a resolution.”

Over at the Port of Liverpool more than 500 workers have come to the end of their two-week walk-out over pay. However, a fresh seven-day walkout will take place in October with even more port workers joining in.

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