Weetabix in talks over staff 'pay cut'

Weetabix lorry
Image caption Weetabix makes about 70 million of its lozenge-shaped biscuits every week

Staff at cereal firm Weetabix are being consulted over possible cuts to pay and working hours, the BBC has been told.

An employee said the plans could see a 10% wage cut for production workers and a wage freeze for other staff.

Weetabix said staff and unions were discussing potential changes to both pay and shifts but refused to discuss specific details.

The company said it needed to be able to "adapt to meet the changing needs of today's modern families".

The company, which also owns the Alpen, Ready Brek and Weetos brands, employs 1,800 workers in Burton Latimer and Corby in Northamptonshire.

Chinese-owned Bright Food bought a 60% stake in the firm in 2012 from Lion Capital in a £1.2bn deal.

'Dynamic and growing'

The Telegraph said a leaked document showed workers on long shifts could have premium-rate pay cut and weekend and night work might be reduced, as the company looks to save millions of pounds and avoid compulsory redundancies.

The newspaper said Weetabix had seen a decline sales, which it blamed on changing consumer habits.

Image copyright Weetabix
Image caption Founded in 1932 as the British and African Cereal Company, the firm changed its name to Weetabix four years later
Image copyright Weetabix
Image caption The company prides itself on only using wheat from within 50 miles of its base, although last year's disastrous harvest forced it to source some overseas wheat
Image caption In recent years the company has been looking to expand into Chinese markets

An employee told the BBC that the consultation could also see Weetabix's cleaning division outsourced to try to save money, and called the proposals "pure corporate greed".

In a statement, the company said it was consulting with trade union representatives to "explore potential changes to shift patterns and associated payments".

It added: "Weetabix has always tightly managed its cost base in order to allow the company to drive growth.

"The breakfast category is dynamic and growing, and the company needs to be able to adapt to meet the changing needs of today's modern families."

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) said it was having "ongoing discussions" with Weetabix over a "number of proposals".

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