Tip Top, Bürgen and Ploughmans bread back after bakers call off strike

Strike resolution a win/win for workers and bread-lovers.
Strike resolution a win/win for workers and bread-lovers. Photo credit: Getty.

Lovers of Tip Top, Ploughmans and Bürgen breads no longer have to worry about supplies running dry, with bakery production back to normal just in time for Christmas.

Tip Top bakery workers striking over pay rises and overtime rates have struck a fair pay deal with their employer, George Weston Foods.

Around 70 Tip Top bakery workers took strike action over fair pay disputes outside of the company's factory in South Auckland during late November, resulting in a 50 percent cut in production and fears of a shortage in the North Island.

FIRST Union spokesperson Anita Rosentreter, said that members voted in favour of an offer from George Weston Foods on Thursday, which sees most of its employees now paid a living wage, with compensation backpaid from 1 September 2019.

"Members who work overtime will earn significantly more than before - (some up to $160 more a week) - with overtime rates [now paid]," Rosentreter said.

Formerly, compensation for those working more than 50 to 55 hours each week was paid at ordinary rates.

"The deal includes increases to hourly rates - up to 4.1 percent - with the majority of members now being paid a living wage or above," Rosentreter confirmed.

"Workers are grateful for the public support they've received over the last few weeks, despite the shortage of bread - [showing] that mild inconvenience for shoppers doesn't outweigh their sense of fairness and justice," Rosentreter added.

Mark Bosomworth, general manager, baking division of George Weston Foods, confirmed that as a result of an agreement being reached, the bakery is back into fully-fledged production - just in time for the pre-Christmas rush.

"We have agreed to a pathway to a living wage during the term of the agreement and to penal rates for staff who are required to perform hours above a normal working week," Bosomworth said.

The company also congratulated those who were redeployed to other roles and assisted with bakery production during the strike.

"Our people know how important bread is to families and they did an excellent job keeping the business running during this time, [reducing] supply issues where possible," Bosomworth added.

Production of buns, rolls, crumpets and gluten-free products was expected to be cut in half over the first two days of the strike, impacting supply across the North Island.

As a gesture of goodwill for people who missed their favourite bread during the strike, George Weston Foods is offering 50,000 free loaves.

"Share your story about how you love our brands (via our Tip Top, Ploughmans or Bürgen Facebook pages), [and] we will give the first 50,000 people a voucher for a free loaf," Bosomworth said. 

Qualifying participants will be sent a private message for postal details and mailed a voucher (please refer to the Facebook page terms and conditions). 

With pay negotiations done and dusted and production of Tip Top, Ploughmans and Bürgen gluten-free breads back in full swing, workers toiling away to bring bread to tables can look forward to fair pay, allowing Kiwis to stock up just in time for Christmas.