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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 June 2016

Could it be 3 strikes and you're out at 2 Sisters?

Striking Pennine Foods workers picket Marks and Spencer, May 2016, photo by Alistair Tice

Striking Pennine Foods workers picket Marks and Spencer, May 2016, photo by Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Alistair Tice

"More for less" is the slogan of 2 Sisters Food Group. That means more for billionaire owner and chief executive Ranjit Singh Boparan, and less, much less, for the workers.

Boparan is known in the business as the 'chicken king'. According to the Sunday Times Rich List he, together with his wife, has a personal fortune worth 1.35 billion. 2 Sisters is the largest food company in the UK owning brands like Fox's Biscuits, Goodfellas Pizza, Holland's Pies, Harry Ramsden's fish and chip shops and supplying ready meals to Marks and Spencer.

Living wage

Using the excuse of implementing the National Living Wage, Boparan is following the trend of private sector employers attacking the premiums and terms and conditions of workers at site after site, in particular cutting premium pay for weekends and bank holidays. One couple, both working weekends at the Pennine Foods factory in Sheffield told me that they would lose 14,000 a year from their household income!

But workers are fighting back. Last summer, over 400 workers, members of the BFAWU bakers and foodworkers union, at the 2 Sisters owned Gunstone's factory near Sheffield, went on strike for the first time ever to win a pay rise.

Two weeks ago, on 19-20 May, 500 BFAWU members at Pennine Foods also struck for the first time ever against the imposition of a new contract removing all premium pay. They will strike again for another 48 hours on 5 June.

Pennine workers have been boosted by news that 400 of their BFAWU colleagues at 2 Sisters owned RF Brookes factory in Rogerstone, Newport, South Wales are starting 48-hour strike action against 20-25% pay cuts on 2 June.

Dai Mort, BFAWU branch secretary at Brookes, explained that workers are striking against a cut to night shift allowance and overtime rates. Some workers could lose nearly 3,000 a year and workers under 25 years will be paid 50p an hour less. Pennine workers will be sending a car down to the RF Brookes picket line in solidarity.

And 440 Unite union members at the Pizza Factory (also owned by 2 Sisters) in Nottingham are currently balloting over a pay claim, with the result due on 6 June.

So, in the next few weeks, workers at three 2 Sisters factories could be taking strike action together.


Shop stewards should coordinate strike days and use these disputes to build a 2 Sisters shop stewards network.

That would stop management from being able to transfer production, and especially hit Marks and Spencer who are supplied by both the Pennine and RF Brookes factories. Strike action plus a leverage campaign of picket protests at M&S stores can win a victory for the workers.

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In The Socialist 1 June 2016:

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What we think

Tories tearing themselves apart over EU referendum: vote leave to get Cameron out

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PCS conference takes serious approach to key political and industrial questions

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Welsh Government under attack at Wales TUC conference...and museum strikers close to victory

University lecturers strike for fair pay

Thomas Cook cabin crew to strike over breaks

BIS office closure: Anger and determination to fight on

Workplace news in brief

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Property speculators target Butterfields tenants

Pent Valley campaigners take council to judicial review

George Tomlinson school: Academy fears

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Solidarity with protesters in Kazakhstan

Portugal: Lisbon dockers' victory

Socialist Party comments and reviews

Film: Money Monster

Obituary: Simon Gomery 1968-2016

Letter: Parcel farce


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