Bulmers Dispute: Workers issued ‘Sack & Sign’ Ultimatum

Less than a month before Christmas, Workers at Bulmers’ Hereford factory are facing a ‘sack and sign’ ultimatum by parent company Heineken.

Two weeks ago workers at the factory were informed that management were planning on restructuring the business through the firing of employees and then rehiring them on new contracts. These contracts are set to not only leave workers out of pocket, but also seriously weaken their contractual terms & conditions in terms of both sick and holiday pay. There is also planned changes to flexible working, retirement rundown benefits and Sunday shift premiums.

Some may argue that in a very difficult year for 2020 there is going to be a need for certain changes in order for businesses to continue to survive and thrive. However, the example of Bulmers workers shows that many companies are using the effects of COVID-19 to push through restructuring that management have had in mind for some time. More often than not those bearing the brunt of these restructuring measures are those that create the profits for the business, the workers.

Ironically enough for Heineken, it hasn’t even been a bad year for the brewing giant. In August the Dutch based company released its half year profits for 2020—an eye-watering €227 million. Doesn’t exactly sound like a company on the edge in need of drastic changes to its workers’ contracts, does it?

Luckily enough for the Bulmers’ workers, there is an active Unite the Union Branch at the factory. There are 200 Unite members at the plant and 78% of them voted to reject the proposed changes. ‘Sack & Sign’ ultimatums are becoming an alarmingly common tool amongst employers, with ASDA workers this time last year facing a similar fate.

Unite regional coordinating officer Simon Powell, who has been leading the negotiations on behalf of the union and their members at the Bulmers plant, said: 

“Throughout the negotiations, which have taken place over a long period of time, Heineken’s management have adopted an aggressive approach and tried to ride roughshod over many of the workforce’s employment terms. 

“Instead of offering conditions that are completely unacceptable to our members, we urge Heineken to get back around the table and seek agreement on this for the good of all concerned.”


Unite national officer Joe Clarke said: 

“Heineken’s SAS ultimatum to its Hereford staff has shocked the workforce, who have worked hard throughout the pandemic ensuring the company kept bringing money in. Staff are preparing to battle these changes with everything they’ve got. What else are they supposed to do when faced with losing their financial security after years of dedicated service?”


To keep up to date with the dispute please like the Unite the Union Herefordshire and Worcestershire Branch (WM/6070) Facebook page. If there is anyway we as a community can support the workforce at Bulmers we will let you know via Worcestershire Transformed social media pages.

Solidarity to those facing these ultimatums—Worcestershire Transformed supports you.

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