WORKERS at a Banbury factory which supplies most of the UK’s chocolate makers are planning a series of two-day strikes over a pay dispute.
The 108 members of the Unite trade union, working for the global chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut, have already held two one-day walkouts after rejecting a 1.5 per cent offer.
The staff, who voted 91.6 per cent in favour of strike action, produce pellets from raw cocoa for Kraft, Cadbury, Nestlé and Hershey.
Their two 48-hour stoppages are planned for Friday and Monday.
Barry Callebaut spokesman Raphael Wernuth, speaking from the Belgian head office, said: “We feel that we have made a fair proposal with our latest offer, which increases the salaries and the investment we made in the factory which ensures the long-term future of all our employees.”
He said the company is keen to reach a settlement and will meet the union.
But Mick Polleck, Unite regional officer, accused the company of “dragging its heels and refusing to negotiate” and said workers elsewhere had received two per cent.
He said: “With the top boss pocketing a whopping 79 per cent pay rise for 2011 and other workers getting a two per cent pay rise, it is little wonder that our members’ patience has run out.”