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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2011

Heinz strikes force improved offer

Four solid strikes by 1,000+ workers at the Heinz plant in Wigan have forced a significantly improved offer from the company.

Members of the Unite union are now voting over whether to accept the offer of a two-year deal, for 3.9% pay rises in each year plus guarantees on the bonus scheme. The offer was made following talks on 12 January.

Ian Wright, acting convenor for Unite, told me: "I think the offer's adequate, it's not brilliant, it's not inflation, but it's probably what will float our members' boats... Now we're just waiting for the ballot result which will be out on 18 January."

Unite put in a pay claim last spring for 4.3%, fractionally above the rate of inflation. Previously management had shown no interest in negotiating with Unite, only talks which went nowhere while inflation eroded pay.

In between strike days, Heinz offered a derisory 0.2% above what was on the table a year ago, except with more strings attached. Workers rejected this by 2:1 in a ballot and took strike action again on 11 January. Strikers on the picket line then expressed absolute determination to continue the struggle, and had notified Heinz of another 24-hour strike on Wednesday 19 January.

Hugh Caffrey

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In The Socialist 19 January 2011:


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