Union members set for four-day strike in new action against Northampton packaging firm

The Smurfit Kappa headquarters in Moulton Way, Northampton.
The Smurfit Kappa headquarters in Moulton Way, Northampton.

Workers at a Northampton packaging factory are set to strike for the second time over the alleged firing of two employees – unless the men are reinstated.

The Unite union has announced an escalation of industrial station at the corrugated packaging company Smurfit Kappa, based in Moulton Way.

Workers  formed a picket line at Moulton Way firm Smurfit Kappa, over the alleged firing of two employees last week. Employees are set to strike again at the end of next week.

Workers formed a picket line at Moulton Way firm Smurfit Kappa, over the alleged firing of two employees last week. Employees are set to strike again at the end of next week.

More than 100 workers are set to take part in a four-day strike starting next Friday, April 17.

Unite’s 108 members have already taken part in two days of strike action, on April 1 and 2, in support of two dismissed colleagues which the union says were sacked unfairly.

Unite regional officer Mick Orpin said: “Our members are resilient and steadfast in getting our two dismissed reps back to work and have decided to escalate the action to a four-day stoppage starting next Friday.

“This strike will run in tandem with the month-long work to rule and overtime ban which finishes on April 24.

“It is anticipated that all our members will be taking part in this escalation.

“We are still hopeful that the company will agree to meet with us and enter into positive discussions – but, at present, it is maintaining its hard line. We call on Kappa to reinstate the two stewards immediately.”

Unite says both sacked stewards had played a part in bringing a claim against the company and the two union members also resisted second generation contracts being introduced into the workplace in 2014, which they claim would have meant new starters getting paid less than existing workers for the same job.

The exact reason for their dismissal has not been disclosed by Smurfit Kappa to the Chronicle & Echo and the company has declined to comment.

Unite members voted by 60 per cent for strike action and 73 per cent for action short of a strike over the dismissal of the first steward and the suspended second steward, since sacked.

Kappa is one of the leading providers of paper-based packaging in the world, with about 42,000 employees across 32 countries.