England

'Scrooge' Unilever scraps Christmas gifts for strikers

Striking Unilever workers at Port Sunlight
Image caption Unilever workers are on a 24 hour strike

Striking workers at consumer goods company Unilever have accused bosses of "Scrooge tactics" by cancelling Christmas parties, gifts and hampers.

More than 2,500 workers have staged a 24-hour walkout in a pensions row.

Staff walked out at Gloucester, Port Sunlight, Purfleet, Norwich, Leeds, Manchester, Bedford, Burton-on-Trent, Crumlin, Deeside and Warrington.

Unilever said the strike had made Christmas gifts inappropriate and instead donated items to charity.

The dispute is over plans to end the company's final salary pension scheme.

Members of Unite, Usdaw and the GMB unions are taking part in the 24-hour stoppage, the first national strike at the company, over proposals which they say will cut retirement income for staff by up to 40%.

Some workers walked out at 19:00 GMT on Thursday while others went on strike at 07:00 on Friday.

'Act of spite'

Unions said the strike, at various times at the 11 sites, would hit production of Unilever's brands including Dove, Marmite, PG Tips, Pot Noodle and Hellman's Mayonnaise.

Jennie Formby, national officer at Unite, said the company had scrapped Christmas parties at plants where workers were on strike along with a £15 Christmas bonus and a food hamper.

"It is an act of spite, they are behaving like Scrooge," she said.

"The company decided to give the hampers to charity without consulting the workers - they probably wouldn't have minded but would like to have been consulted."

In a statement Unilever said: "We felt it would be inappropriate to provide Christmas hampers or gift vouchers to our employees at the sites where industrial action is taking place.

"Instead we have committed to donating these to one of our national charity partners, FareShare."

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