Heinz threatened with strike as row over ‘below inflation rise boils over

HEINZ workers could be balloted for strikes in a pay dispute, the Unite union warned yesterday.

Unite said its members at the food giant’s site in Wigan were calling a vote in protest at a below inflation rise this year and a capped increase for next year of three per cent. Jennie Formby, Unite national officer for food and drink, said: “There is absolutely no need for Heinz to be so stingy.

“The baked beans produced here are favourites in every household in the land.

“In these difficult economic times, Heinz are doing exceptionally well with massive profits this year and forecasts to do the same in 2011.

“So why tell workers that they can only have 3.3 per cent this year when shareholders get offered a tasty ten per cent?

Unite said it would begin the formal process of preparing to ballot members at the Wigan site within weeks unless the pay offer is increased.

But Heinz said it was “perplexed” by talk of a strike ballot when site union representatives “acknowledge this final offer is the best that can be achieved”.

The firm said that in addition to a pay rise of 3.3 per cent this year and up to three per cent next year, the offer also included an annual non-performance-related fixed payment of two weeks’ basic pay, a one-off payment of £200 plus “significant improvements” to the healthcare scheme.