Strike ballot at Cepac

Dominic Bernard
Friday, May 26, 2023

Unionised Cepac employees have begun balloting for industrial action, after negotiations broke down in a pay dispute.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham: Cepac caught "red-handed"
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham: Cepac caught "red-handed"

More than 80 of Cepac’s employees, represented by union Unite, will vote before 6 June. Given a positive vote, strikes could begin later that month, according to the union.

The ballot was offered to members following the packaging giant’s offer of an 8% pay rise to employees. 

Representatives took issue with changes to terms and conditions attached to the deal, with the raise dependent on workers accepting an increase in the working week from 37 to 40 hours, an “inferior” sick pay scheme, changes to shift patterns, and reduced overtime rates.

Unite also noted that the pay offer remained below inflation, which was 11.4% in April 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Pat McCourt, Unite’s regional officer, said: “This dispute is entirely of Cepac’s own making. 

“Unite has tried to resolve this issue through negotiation, however management seem hellbent on provoking the dispute – leaving our members with no choice but to ballot for industrial action.

“During the worst cost of living crisis in living management, Cepac’s management are looking to exploit their own workers’ desperate financial situation with this cynical attack on their terms and conditions.”

Cepac, which lodged a gross profit of £34m on its 2021 accounts, produces corrugated packaging for household brands such as Mars, Carlsberg, and Diageo. It has four sites in the North of England, and was founded in 1999.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said its Cepac members would get the union's total backing: "Cepac have been caught red-handed. This is a highly profitable company which is refusing to give its workers a decent rise as well as combining that with a con trick on terms and conditions."

Printweek has contacted Cepac for comment.

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