Quorn strike: Warning Billingham action could lead to shortages in shops

Quorn workers in Billingham are set to go on strike for eight days. Credit: PA

More than 60 workers at a Quorn factory on Teesside are planning strike action as part of a dispute over pay.

Staff at the company's meat free paste production factory in Billingham are due to walk out from 30 September to 8 October, with the exception of 3 October.

More strikes are set to be scheduled if the issue is not resolved, and the action could lead to shortages of Quorn products in supermarkets.

Former Quorn Foods CEO Kevin Brennan (right) and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen (left) at the Billingham factory in 2018. Credit: PA

Unite the Union, which represents the workers, said they rejected a 4% pay offer, plus a £1,000 bonus amid claims the company's latest operating profits were £236 million.

They are asking for a 9% increase, which was the rate of inflation in April when negotiations began.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Quorn is a successful business that pays its CEO Marco Bertacca a huge wage - it can afford to give our members a reasonable pay rise and needs to do so.  

“Quorn is quick to boast that it is an ethical company, but clearly that social responsibility does not extend to ensuring its workers’ wages do not fall behind rising prices.

"Our Billingham members have Unite’s total backing in their fight for a fair pay rise.”

A spokesperson for Quorn said talks are ongoing. Credit: PA

The striking workers include fermenter and chiller technicians, maintenance and laboratory staff and effluent treatment plant staff.

Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown said: “Our members have been left with no choice but to strike after Quorn put forward a pay offer with no meat on the bone. 

“The responsibility for any Quorn product shortages will be the company’s for refusing to put forward a decent rise even though it is not short of money. A pay deal our members can accept needs to be tabled.”

A spokesperson for Quorn said: "We are aware of the potential industrial action at our manufacturing site in Billingham, and through ongoing discussions with our employees and their union, we hope to reach a resolution."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...