Quorn employees strike over cost-of-living pay dispute

Credit: The Image Party / Shutterstock.com

Employees at vegetarian and vegan food product business Quorn have commenced strike action today (20 October) over a cost-of-living pay rise dispute.

The fermenter and chiller technicians, maintenance, laboratory and effluent treatment plant staff, who are members of trade union Unite, started demonstrations at 8am at the employer’s Billingham factory in Teeside. Rather than accept a 4% pay offer and one-off payment of £1,000, the workers have asked for a 9% pay rise, to match the inflation rate in April when negotiations began.

They have been joined by members of the International Union of Food Workers who are also protesting over pay at the headquarters of Quorn’s parent organisation Monde Nissin in Manila, Philippines.

According to Unite, Quorn’s revenues for 2021 were £224.9 million, its gross profits were £88.9 million, and its highest paid director was paid nearly £1.5 million. Meanwhile, Monde Nissin brought in more than £1 billion in revenue during the same period.

A Quorn spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that further industrial action is planned for this week, as we believe a 4% pay increase, worth more than £2,000 per employee, plus a £1,000 bonus, is a fair and appropriate offer. We continue to hold discussions with our employees and their representatives with the aim of quickly reaching a resolution.

“We can confirm that during this industrial action, there has been no change to the high standards of health and safety at our Billingham manufacturing site, nor has there been any risk to the supply of Quorn to our customers.”

Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, added: “Quorn and Monde Nissin are raking it in but their workforce is being told to take what is a pay cut amid a cost-of-living crisis. This is just not acceptable to Unite. Quorn can afford to put forward a proper pay rise and must do so. Our members in Billingham have Unite’s complete support during these strikes.”