Jacob’s Cream Crackers maker crumbles in face of ‘permanent’ strike

<span>Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

A “permanent” strike at the factory that makes Jacob’s Cream Crackers and Twiglets has come to an end after biscuit bosses crumbled and upped a pay deal for workers.

More than 750 of about 800 workers returned to work at the brand’s factory in Aintree on Thursday having won a 6.5% pay increase, backdated to January, with a £500 bonus payment on top and a further £250 bonus to follow in January next year.

The deal comes after 11 weeks of strikes by workers belonging to the GMB union after they were offered a pay rise of 4.25%, falling far short of their initial demand of 10% – in line with inflation.

Workers first took strike action in September but moved to a “permanent strike” last month over what they said was a “real-terms pay cut”.

Pladis, the owner of Jacob’s and Twiglets, temporarily shifted some production to Portugal to ensure supplies in the run-up to Christmas after more than a month of continuous action over pay at the UK factory.

The dispute threatened the Aintree site, which has been operating for more than 100 years and was the first Jacob’s factory to be built in England. It remains the primary facility for its products in the UK.

Lisa Ryan, the GMB organiser, said: “These workers have stuck together and secured a decent pay offer through their commitment.

“They needed something to help them during the cost of living crisis. We’re glad the company have finally listened to their hard-pressed staff.

“Every penny earned here is down to these workers. All they wanted was their fair share.”

The resolution for the biscuit workers comes amid an autumn of discontent as employers struggle to keep wages in line with soaring inflation.

Workers from rival biscuit maker Fox’s recently secured a 13.5% pay rise over two years after threatening strike action backed by the Unite union, while those at Heinz’s condiment factory in Telford won an 11% pay rise.

Nurses, rail workers, university staff and postal workers have also been on strike in recent weeks or are expected to strike before Christmas in disputes over pay.

Pladis has been approached for comment.