1. ITV Report

Workers vow to halt Pancake Tuesday amid bakery strike

Workers at the Allied Bakeries site in east Belfast are taking strike action amid a pay dispute. Credit: Pacemaker

Workers have vowed to halt Pancake Tuesday in Northern Ireland during strike action at one of the UK’s largest bakeries.

Bakers at Allied Bakeries in east Belfast walked out early on Sunday morning for the first time in decades in a row over a 3% pay claim.

This is one of the busiest weeks of the year at the site, which is part of Associated British Foods.

The multi-national company owns a series of brands, including clothes retailer Primark, and posted profits of around £1.4bn last year.

A Kingsmill lorry stopped at the gates where dozens of workers carrying red Unite the Union flags demonstrated in the morning chill.

Local police mediated.

There will be no Pancake Tuesday celebrated in Northern Ireland and we hope to affect it elsewhere as well.

– Susan Fitzgerald, Unite

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Susan Fitzgerald said: “During this picket, we will be sending people to stand outside supermarkets leafleting, saying that other working people, in solidarity with Allied Bakery workers, should boycott Sunblest, Kingsmill and the other products that come out of here.

“That includes a favourite, unfortunately - pancakes, which are going to be in demand next week.”

She said the company’s turnover was worth £12bn, but workers were being denied a 3% pay increase.

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According to Ms Fitzgerald, Allied Bakeries is offering a 2.5% pay increase, which she added was significantly less than the Hovis bakery, which also has a plant in Belfast, a short distance away.

She said demonstrators were resolved not to leave the picket line until their pay requests were met.

“These are workers who work around the clock, who work weekends for a consolidated shift rate,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“When you strip that bare, it is little more than the minimum wage. These are people who are feeding the country.

“No society can do without bread, these are key workers.”

We do not expect supply of our core Sunblest, Kingsmill and own-label pancakes to be significantly impacted as we engage with our employees to resolve this dispute.

– Allied Bakeries

An Allied Bakeries statement said it was proud of its reputation as a long-term and responsible local employer and deeply disappointed that union officials had rejected its latest pay offer.

“All employees involved are paid at rates above that recommended by the Living Wage Foundation and benefit from company-subsidised pensions, free life insurance cover, as well as a range of other benefits,” it said.

“We have increased our rates of pay every year for the past 10 years and will do so again this year.

“In the meantime, contingency plans are in place.”