UK: Coffee giant JDE threatens entire workforce with dismissal to ram through attack on conditions
UPDATE – On March 11, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) and Unite the Union agreed to a joint statement in which JDE has retracted its plan to dismiss and reemploy all workers in order to allow for negotiations with the union between now and October 2020. Unite has committed “to engage constructively in a dialogue to ensure the future sustainability of the Banbury site.”
With support from the IUF, Unite the Union, with 300 members at the Jacobs Douwe Egberts coffee plant in Banbury, Oxfordshire, is campaigning to challenge the company’s plan to unilaterally dismiss the entire workforce and reemploy workers who submit to inferior pay and conditions.
At the end of February, management issued an ultimatum to all workers: employment contracts would be terminated and those unwilling to accept undefined new terms and conditions would be considered to have resigned: take it or leave it.
Unite national officer for the food industry Joe Clarke said: “In nearly 30 years of union work I have never encountered such a negative approach from an employer to ignore the established consultation and negotiating procedures.”
IUF General Secretary Sue Longley has written JDE CEO Casey Keller to demand that management withdraw the letters threatening dismissal and reemployment and enter into good faith negotiations with Unite. The IUF is organizing global support for Unite at Banbury.
Affiliates at the EFFAT-IUF Executive Committee meeting in Brussels March 4 show support for the struggle at JDE UK
JDE, the world’s second-largest coffee roaster, was formed in 2015 by merging DE Master Blenders and the Mondelez coffee brands. Its brand portfolio includes Jacobs, Tassimo, Moccona, Senseo, L’OR, Douwe Egberts, Kenco, Pilão and Gevalia. JDE is in the process of combining with US-based Peet’s Coffee; a planned public listing for JDE Peet’s would make it the world’s largest publicly listed coffee company. The Banbury plant produces Kenco, Tassimo and Millicano.
Parent company JAB Holdings is a Luxembourg-registered private equity fund. Its aggressive approach to union rights and collective bargaining have previously brought it into conflict with IUF affiliates in Germany and Italy.