Greencore employees win pay deduction case

More than 400 employees have been successful in an unlawful pay deductions complaint against employer Greencore.

The claim, brought before an employment tribunal, involved 408 employees at the convenience food manufacturer’s Hull facility who agreed in 2010 to a one-year suspension of premium pay rates and enhanced holiday pay in order to help the organisation during difficult financial conditions.

However, the organisation continued with the suspension of payments after the agreed timeframe had expired.

Following a successful claim in the tribunal, the employees could be entitled to a share of up £1.2 million, the estimated value of the suspended payments.

The suspension agreement, brokered by trade union Unite, was to run from 1 June 2010 to 1 October 2011, after which payments were to resume as stated in the employees’ contracts.

Greencore’s argument for continuing with the suspension rested on a clause in the agreement between itself and Unite, that stated: “Unite recognises the company’s initial request for the stability of a two-year deal and commits to look favourably upon this request taking into account the company’s finances during 2011.”

The organisation argued that due to continued financial difficulties the union should have agreed to a further extension of the cessation of payments and, as a result of its failure to do so, Greencore argued that it was not obliged to reinstate payments.

The employment tribunal found in favour of the employees, stating that the wording of the collective agreement did not permit continued deduction of payments.

A Greencore spokesperson, said: “Greencore acknowledges the decision in the tribunal case in this matter.

“However, it is very important to note that the case has not been concluded and, in particular, no specific claim has been agreed or stipulated by the tribunal.

“We believe that the management has a good dialogue with our employees at the Hull facility and our priority continues to focus on securing the long-term suitability of the site and employment for the area.”

A further hearing will take place to determine remedy.