Poole food firm workers win. Victory ushers in ‘new chapter’ in good work relations

Unite has successfully defeated an attempt to de-recognise the union at the Poole food manufacturer, Addo Food Group.

Just 24 hours after Unite publicised the group’s plan, Addo’s bosses U-turned on their decision and announced that the firm would continue to recognise the union.

Unite regional secretary for the south west, Peter Hughes, hailed the decision as a “victory” that will help “forge a new chapter in good employment relations in the months and years ahead.”

Unite had a recognition agreement with the Dorset company, previously known as the Pork Farms Group, for more than five years – but was given notice terminating the agreement three months ago.

After talks between Addo’s management and Hughes, as well as the collection of a petition of more than 500 names from the 600 strong workforce, the company reversed its decision and accepted Unite’s presence on site.

Labour MEP for the South West, Clare Moody, also threw her political weight behind the union by speaking directly to Addo, as well as the supermarket chains it supplies, which include Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Previously Addo employees were reluctant to join Unite because of the company’s hardline stance, but as a direct result of the negotiations, recruitment to Unite has increased significantly, Hughes said.

“This has been a good victory for the union,” he commented. “We made a stand, drew a line in the sand and stuck to it. We proved we weren’t going to be pushed around.”

The company has now agreed to negotiate a new recognition agreement and a new facilities agreement, so that shop stewards have an official role in dealing with industrial relations’ matters.

“We had constructive talks with management and the outcome is that the firm will continue to recognise Unite as the union for collective bargaining purposes,” he said.

“We also agreed that Unite will be allowed to approach non-union workers about the benefits of joining a trade union, if they so wish.

“Altogether, this has been a very sensible outcome for both sides and Unite will work in a constructive fashion with management to forge a new chapter in good employment relations in the months and years ahead.”

Labour MEP Clare Moody said she was “delighted” with the outcome.

“I am delighted that Addo wishes to continue to build its relationship with Unite and am very much looking forward to visiting the site and speaking with the reps about how we can continue to work together,” she said.

“I am deeply aware of the challenges that we face, particularly in the south west, with tackling low pay,” Moody noted. “Collective bargaining is an essential part of dealing with this problem.”

Ryan Fletcher