Workers at the Hain Daniels Group, owners of the jam makers at Histon, near Cambridge, are considering the possibility of industrial action over proposed detrimental changes to long-standing contracts.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, which represents workers at the Chivers Way site, has fired ‘a shot across the bows’ of the management which wants radical changes to two ‘legacy’ contracts which are more than 20-years-old.

At talks this week, the management wanted changes to the contracts affecting about 260 workers including reducing company sick pay, ending enhanced redundancy packages and stopping pay protection when shifts are altered.

Unite regional officer Roger Dillion said: “The management came back with minor concessions to the proposed changes in the ‘legacy’ contracts, but they are unsatisfactory and represent a crude salami slicing of our members’ long-standing terms and conditions.

“We may have a further meeting with the company on Monday (10 February) and if substantial progress is not made, we will be considering holding a ballot for industrial action, including strike action. The ball is now in the management’s court.”

Since last autumn, Unite has been seeking clarity over the future of the Histon site following media reports that the company could be up for sale.

Roger Dillion added: “We believe that the detrimental changes to our members’ contracts should be seen in the context of making the Histon plant more financially attractive to a potential buyer.

“We are continuing to press management to come clean and make clear the site’s future – if the company is there for the long-term or is it contemplating a sale? Our members deserve certainty with regards to their future employment prospects.” 
The Cambridgeshire site, which dates back to 1873, produces such iconic brands as Hartley’s jam, Gales Honey, and the Robertson’s and Frank Cooper marmalades.


The Hain Daniels Group has sites across the UK, but Histon is the only one where Unite is recognised for trade union collective bargaining purposes.

The company’s website says: “Histon, in Cambridgeshire, is our largest manufacturing site, and from here, we manufacture a number of the UK’s favourite jams, marmalades, jellies, honey, mincemeat, fruit fillings & fruit ingredients.”

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065. Email:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.