Unite protestors escalate public protests against MMP customers after workers’ lock-out


Unite “chefs” are today cooking up a protest of union cup cakes and custard pies at the BBC Good Food Show at Glow, Bluewater.

The protest is part of Unite’s national wave of action against John Lewis and other customers of Mayr-Melnhof Packaging (MMP).

(Pictured: Unite members leaflet shoppers at Waitrose store in Glasgow)

The action follows a protest in London yesterday when packaging workers from Bootle on Merseyside descended on London to demand their reinstatement, after bosses made more than 100 workers redundant without consultation and “illegally” sacked four others.

MMP is a multinational packaging company owned by Austrian aristocrats. It produces packaging for leading brands such as Kellogg’s whose products are sold by leading retailers including the Good Food Show Exhibitor, John Lewis, owners of Waitrose.

MMP management has blamed the loss of a key contract with the breakfast cereal maker for the current round of job cuts.

In London on Wednesday, activists hit BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions with a leaflet drop before heading across the city to vent their anger at Kellogg’s and Fidelity Worldwide Investment.

Unite representatives have said the campaign is deliberately designed to embarrass business associates of MMP and encourage them to put pressure on the firm to follow British employment law.

Assembling outside Fidelity Growth Investments in the centre of the capital’s financial district, MMP workers chanted “shame on you”, with the noise able to be heard several hundred yards away at St Paul’s Cathedral.

One of the 108 workers made redundant from the factory following the lockout, Laurence Sinclair spoke exclusively to UnionNews about his experiences and hopes for the future.

Attempting to explain the bosses “bizarre” behaviour first with a lockout and then redundancy without consultation, he said: “The bosses were against voluntary redundancy. We suspect they wanted to pick on trade union activists.”

“There have been no proper negotiations. So now we are putting pressure on their suppliers.

“Most of them have signed up to the Ethical Trading Initiative. Well, what MMP has done is completely unethical and suppliers need to take responsibility.”

In a week of protests planned by workers and Unite, shareholders linked to MMP can expect a rough ride as campaigners turn up the heat on bosses at the firm.

(Pictured: Locked out workers picket the Bootle plant)

Speaking ahead of today’s BBC protest, Unite South East Regional Secretary John Rowse said: “MMP is a rich company that is in breach of the law and has put over 140 workers and their families out of work in Merseyside.

“John Lewis will be promoting its brand as an ethical leader at the Good Food Show.

“We are calling on John Lewis to insist that MMP complies with John Lewis’ Responsible Sourcing Code, with UK law and talk to Unite about resolving this situation as a matter of urgency in order to end this illegal lock-out and get these workers back to work.”

Unite is also protesting and leafleting shoppers at a branch of the Cooperative in Glasgow city centre later today.

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