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Chocolate workers set for more strike action
Workers at a Banbury factory which supplies most of the UK's chocolate makers are planning a series of two-day strikes in a pay dispute.
The 108 members of the Unite trade union, working for the global chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut, have already held two one-day walkouts after rejecting a 1.5 per cent offer.
The staff, who produce pellets from raw cocoa for Kraft, Cadbury, Nestle and Hershey, are now stepping up their action with two 48-hour stoppages planned for Friday and Monday.
Barry Callebaut spokesman Raphael Wernuth, speaking from the Belgian head office, said: "We feel that we have made a fair proposal with our latest offer, which increases the salaries and the investment we made in the factory which ensures the long-term future of all our employees.
"We are keen to reach a settlement and are available to meet the union, which we will do."
But Mick Polleck, Unite regional officer, accused the company of "dragging its heels and refusing to negotiate" and said workers elsewhere had received two per cent.
“With the top boss pocketing a whooping 79 per cent pay rise for 2011 and other workers getting a two per cent pay rise, it is little wonder that our members’ patience has run out.
"They have vowed to fight until they get a pay deal that reflects the contribution they have made to the company’s success “Managers must stop hoarding the riches and give our members their fair share. With the company’s profits up by 13 per cent for 2011, a better pay offer is easily within its reach.
He added: “Unite is ready to negotiate, but it takes two. We are ready to get around the table or involve Acas to settle this dispute."
Staff at the factory on Wildmere Road Industrial Estate voted 91.6 per cent in favour of strike action in a ballot, said Unite.