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Anger as Unilever fails to pay 450 workers

By The Citizen  |  Posted: September 22, 2012


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ANGRY factory workers and their families are furious they have not been paid – and claim the situation has spiralled out of control.

Unilever, the makers of Wall's ice cream and Marmite, failed to pay around 450 workers yesterday at the Barnwood factory. Although Unilever apologised yesterday, some employees said the problem has gone on for months and they have had to rely on payday loans.

Mum-of-two Sarah Woods, from Brockworth, whose husband has worked at the firm for 10 years, said: "I have £8 left in the bank and I've got a family to feed including two five-year-olds.

"Unilever must realise that many of us are families on low incomes. We don't even have money to pay for food this weekend.

"This isn't the first time it has happened. There have been problems on and off since January.

"It has meant many people taking out payday loans. We took out a £250 loan last month which we were supposed to pay back yesterday. That hasn't happened so we are being charged an extra £200. We know of another four people on my husband's shift who have also taken out payday loans."

One employee, who did not want to be named, contacted The Citizen and said: "I checked my bank account and I was shocked we hadn't been paid. It's messed up our direct debits."

A Unilever manager tried to stop The Citizen speaking to workers as they clocked off at 2pm.

But one worker said: "To say we've not been paid for a while would be an understatement."

A spokesman for Unilever said last night: "We sincerely apologise to all of our employees who have been affected. We'd like to assure our colleagues that we're doing everything we can to resolve the problem with our provider, NorthgateArinso, and anticipate that the majority of employees will be paid in full by the end of the day.

"NorthgateArinso will fully reimburse all financial penalties incurred by employees due to late payment. Separately, we are aware there have been some recent issues with late overtime payment at our Gloucester site. We are currently investigating this and are working to rectify the situation."

NorthgateArinso was contacted by The Citizen but no-one was available to comment last night.

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  • Kingsholm1983  |  September 23 2012, 8:16PM

    can understand the anger shown by my Unilever workmates, but must say this article is more of a storm in a tea-cup. The truth is this is the 1st time I've known pay to be late in the 10years, it was around 20hrs late. (meaning that Saturday your front page was outdated) Managers on site were actually affected. The recent problems have related more to payslips being late, which employees are told are down to TNT and overtime payments being missed. The odd thing with the payslips was last year Unilever stopped using Royal Mail for the same reason, yet last week Unilever management were cosy-ing up to the Chief Executive of the Post Office???? The problems with pay seem to be too many 3rd parties involved, and a Peoplelink call centre in India doesn't help.....

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  • tishwash  |  September 23 2012, 7:43PM

    @eggybread again jumping to conclusions that I'm jumped up..... At the end of the day there are lots of people out there that don't understand pay day loans, and if you don't understand them then potentially you're going to ruin your money situation even more. I wouldn't be surprised if they are banned within the next couple of years, just like the "no win no fee" that isn't actually "no win no fee" and hence I believe a bill is currently going through parliament to investigate banning the practice, it's no win, no fee from your side but you're likely to end up paying the costs of the other side. So lets take Wonga.com as an example, if someone doesn't understand the system and requests say £400 for a month they'll end up paying 525.48, if they don't pay in time they're potentially paying for defaulting fees, potentially applying for another pay day loan to cover the 125.48 interest from the first loan, it just goes from bad to worse, most people can get a credit card relatively fast, I believe most firms it's around 2-3 days before you have a physical card (providing you can get credit)

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  • Eggybred  |  September 23 2012, 6:15PM

    Tishwash, your lazy assumption that the thousands of people using payday loans do so because they are not as clever or clued up as yourself is false. In my own case and those of people I have contacted through the Consumer Action Group forums the loans have been taken out through desperation, not ignorance or stupidity. And the idea that people who are expecting to get paid and then suddenly don't, who have this month's and next months bills to pay, will be in a position to leisurely apply and wait for a credit card to arrive is nonsense - that's even if you believe the childishness that 'everyone' is able to get one! I may seem harsh, but just as freezing OAPs in winter don't need some dogooder reminding them they need to keep warm, people who can't get credit don't need to be told that actually everyone can.

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  • tishwash  |  September 23 2012, 4:44PM

    @Eggybred actually most people don't know how much of a scam payday loans are, hence they are so popular and make so much money. Get back in your box, near enough everyone can get a credit card of some descript and depending upon the limit it often will provide more than the pay day loans.

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  • Takeaway22  |  September 23 2012, 12:01PM

    I understand it is the shop floor workers where the pay has been late. Managers and directors have been unaffected. Does anyone know if this is true?

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  • Eggybred  |  September 23 2012, 11:10AM

    Areaman until you have been in the position of having to find a couple of months wages to feed your family at the drop of hat (without working overtime because you're already working and the firm isn't paying) it's not really on for you to pass judgement. There is nothing more annoying then people who mean well but go about it by smiling warmly and wagging their finger in a slightly patronising way. We all know payday loans are a dangerous last resort but for many people that is exactly the problem - they have no other resort. And to suggest we're taking the loan because we simply don't understand these things as well as some 'sensible' other people is just pants.

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  • Areaman  |  September 23 2012, 10:22AM

    Eggybread don't snark - tishwash gives good advice - if possible get a credit card before a payday loan. It won't be possible for all, but for many its a much better choice.

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  • Eggybred  |  September 23 2012, 1:42AM

    tishwash, some people don't have those choices and are in a situation where they are desperate and having to make decisions that might seem 'silly' to you. It's not that they don't understand these things as much as you, they just don't have the same 2 months' worth of guaranteed credit available to them 24 hours a day all their working lives that you apparently do.

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  • tishwash  |  September 22 2012, 3:52PM

    Payday loans are a scam for people that don't understand them, if you're being paid late and you need to cover yourself there are credit cards, that providing you pay back within 30 days you don't get charged..... Make your choices sensibly!

    |   -4