Industrial action underway at Saica Pack

Saica Group: "modernising our terms of employment is crucial"
Saica Group: "modernising our terms of employment is crucial"

Union members at two Saica Group sites producing corrugated packaging have begun industrial action over changes to terms and conditions.

Unite members at Saica Pack's Edinburgh and Milngavie sites in Scotland started an official overtime ban on Sunday (14 March), with 24-hour stoppages planned on 17 March and weekly on Wednesdays after that. 

The union said that Saica had had a national agreement in place with Unite and the Confederation of Paper Industries for its UK corrugated sites up until last month, when the Spanish-headquartered group served six months’ notice. 

A year ago it announced plans for a £50m-plus investment in a new purpose-built corrugated packaging factory in Livingston. The group supplies packaging for a wide range of end uses including e-commerce, industry, fresh foods and distribution applications. 

“The industrial action follows a decision by the company to detrimentally vary the contracts of Unite members as they relocate to the new Livingston site in 2022. Saica are extending the working week and introducing a banked hour’s agreement,” Unite stated.

Regional officer Norman King said: “Unite members at the Edinburgh and Milngavie sites have had new contracts put in front of them this week. Saica workers are required to sign up by end of play on March 16 on the eve of the action which is a blatant threat to our members’ job security should they choose not to sign at this time.”

Saica operates across nine European countries and recently set up a new operation in the USA.

The group’s divisions are: Saica Natur integrated waste management, Saica Paper recycled paper for corrugated cardboard, Saica Pack corrugated packaging, and Saica Flex flexible packaging. 

In a statement, Saica Group said that modernising its terms of employment was “crucial”.

“Saica Group is disappointed in this course of action; however, we will continue to engage with Unite in good faith. 

“We are committed to our highly valued employees, and by working closely with our customers throughout this process, we’ll do everything we can to minimise any potential impact. Underpinning this commitment to our employees is the £68.6m investment in our new Livingston site, which will secure the successful future of Saica in Scotland for the long-term.

“Saica Group’s long-term future in Scotland is our focus, and modernising our terms of employment is crucial as we strive to continually improve our service to our much-valued customers. In order to achieve this, we must update our terms to ensure they respond to the intricate demands of the era in which we’re operating in.”

Unite national officer Louisa Bull said that the dispute could potentially have ramifications for other group plants across the UK.

“We have a national consultative ballot out at this time as members across Saica UK are concerned with the timing of the notice to withdraw from our national agreement and they may wish to take similar action to those colleagues in Scotland. Along with our sister trade unions we value our national agreement as it not only settles pay each year but it protects the terms and conditions of our members who now fear that they are under attack,” she said.

Saica Pack UK had sales of £352m in its most recent results, for 2019. The overall group has sales of over €3.8bn (£3.3bn) and more than 10,000 employees.