Fish overtime row goes to Brussels

THE ongoing row over Grimsby based Icelandic Seachill, which has been accused of cutting overtime to pay for the new national living wage, has been taken to the European Commission in Brussels.
The Unite union’s regional officer Dave Monaghanand shop steward Mark Hodson have also handed in a letter to the firm’s Icelandic owners protesting at the UK bosses changing workers’ contracts without agreement.
They claim workers are being pressurised into signing new contracts which will see their pay packets reduced.
The union said last month that Icelandic Seachill relies on large amounts of overtime from its 400 workforce at the chilled site and was engaged in ‘an outrageous sleight of hand’ to recoup the money it is paying out for the 46 pence per hour increase required by the ‘national living wage’.
It says that without this overtime the company would not be able to generate the tens of millions of pounds in revenue that it does.
But Icelandic Seachill, which produces the award winning Saucy Fish range, has repeatedly said it needs to manage its wage costs in a manner that keeps the company competitive in a challenging market.
A company statement said: ‘Icelandic Seachill is hopeful that the majority of their employees will agree to the new terms and have already had indications from most that this is the case.
‘For the small number of employees who may choose to reject the proposal of the company, in line with the ACAS guidelines, will be served notice and offered re-engagement on the new terms.
‘Unite have released information relating to the proposed changes however these rates are not applicable to the whole workforce.
‘Icelandic Seachill has a number of different pay rates at the chilled site and included in their proposal is a commitment to protect existing pay differentials.
‘Employees each take an individual approach to overtime in relation to their own personal circumstances and the requirements of the business therefore the impact of these changes will be different for individuals.’
The company claims that it has been receiving requests from employees asking to reduce the amount of overtime which was not an efficient way of working.
The union’s Brussels letter was handed over through the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) and European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT).
The two European federation unions said: ‘We understand that workers at Icelandic Seachill in Grimsby face the threat of dismissal unless they agree to the detrimental changes to their overtime rates.
‘We call on your company to resolve this dispute on the basis of respect for international human rights standards, including the fundamental International Labour Organisation conventions.’