Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate is one of the UK’s largest supplier of coco products to the confectionary industry, including to the manufacturers of Ferrero Rocher.
But now staff at the confectionary giant’s site in Worksop – which houses a production line churning out tens of thousands of tonnes of chocolate each year – have voted to take industrial action.
“The spectre of Christmas without this beloved yuletide treat would be devastating,” said Cameron Mitchell, a regional organiser at the GMB union.
“That’s exactly what’s on the cards if company bosses don’t act urgently to avoid strike action.
“Workers aren’t demanding gold-wrapped pay-outs, instead they’re asking for a pay packet that covers the bills. We urge company top brass to urgently back around the table with a fair offer for our members.”
More than a dozen staff at the Nottinghamshire site are set to walk out after 100 per cent of employees balloted by the union voted to back industrial action – after rejecting a real-terms pay cut.
Dates for the walkouts to be announced in the coming days, GMB said.
But a Ferrero spokesperson said: “We do not source any of our cocoa from the Cargill factory in Nottinghamshire for Ferrero Rocher.”
According to Cargill, the global company acquired its Worksop site in 2003, which is “equipped with high precision chocolate manufacturing machines”.
“At Worksop we produce (in bulk liquid form) a full range of milk and plain chocolate, while our factories in Belgium and France increase our portfolio by offering a complete range of milk, plain and white chocolate in ‘easymelt’ form,” says the firm’s website.
“These products are developed for various applications in the confectionery, biscuit, bakery and dairy industries, ranging from ‘stand alone’ recipes for chocolate bars to finely designed recipes which compliment the texture and taste profile of biscuits and cakes.”
A spokesperson for Cargill said: “The GMB union at our Worksop facility in Nottinghamshire has taken a vote to confirm their intent to strike. At this time, however, employees are not on strike – operations continue as usual and employees are on the job.
“Cargill has contingency plans in place to continue providing chocolate to our customers if a strike does occur. We do not currently have, nor do we anticipate, a chocolate shortage or adverse supply chain impact to any of our customers.
“Regarding pay negotiations, we can confirm Cargill has made a market competitive offer of a 5.5 per cent increase, as well as an £1,400 one-time bonus payment, as we greatly value our employees and the work they do. Twelve of our 34 employees at Worksop belong to the GMB union and we hope we can come to a collaborative agreement.”
Ferrero Rocher have been a Christmas staple in the UK since the 1990s, when a now well-known TV advert set in a European ambassador’s official residence saw the chocolates arranged into a pyramid and handed out to guests.
By 2015, it was reported that one in six of Ferrero Rochers sold in the UK and purchased during the last three months of the year.