Mowi's treatment of Scottish workers under scrutiny by trade union

The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) says Mowi's Norwegian staff enjoy better pay and conditions than their Scottish counterparts. Mowi Scotland says it supports worker rights to unionize, but "simple comparisons" between countries "ignores complex differences".
View towards Rosyth, location of Mowi Scotland's salmon processing plant.

View towards Rosyth, location of Mowi Scotland's salmon processing plant.

Photo: Adobe Stock.

Differences in working conditions for workers in Mowi's Norwegian operations versus its Scottish business have been called into question recently by The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).

BFAWU has invited workers at Mowi Scotland to reply to an anonymous survey regarding pay and conditions, and is campaigning for Mowi employees in Scotland to join the Union.

In a copy of the online survey seen by WeAreAquaculture, BFAWU asks whether Scottish workers are treated the same as their Norwegian counterparts, pointing out that "MOWI workers in Norway are paid a 20% supplement for hours worked after 5pm".

The survey also informs respondents that "MOWI workers in Norway are paid 100% of their wages for the first 16 days of sick leave", and notes that "at all MOWI plants in Norway, workers are represented by a trade union that negotiates with management over pay and conditions at work".

The results of the survey have not yet been made available by the BFAWU.

Mowi Scotland says it supports workers' rights to unionize

A Mowi Scotland spokesperson sent WeAreAquaculture the following statement responding to the BFAWU position:

“Mowi is supportive of our colleagues’ rights to join a union and to seek collective representation, should they wish. While some individuals have decided to join one of many unions available to them, to date we have not received any indication from our employees that a formal recognition agreement is being sought."

"It is not for Mowi to decide which particular union an employee wishes to join – that is an individual choice for the employee to make based on who they feel will best represent them, and the nature of our sector means there are several options."

"We have not made any attempt to prevent the BFAWU continuing their recruitment campaigns. However, making simple comparisons to other countries ignores complex differences in cost of living, income tax rates and state benefits."

"We will continue to listen to feedback from our employees and take our lead from them. In the meantime, we will focus on our absolute commitment to creating and sustaining the best possible working environment for all our employees, whether or not they choose to seek union representation.”

Mowi Scotland says dialogue will begin if BFAWU reaches minimum membership threshold

The BFAWU said in a press release that “Mowi in Scotland is refusing to meet with the BFAWU let alone recognise it, until the union meets the legal threshold for members.”

However, the Mowi Scotland spokesperson said that Mowi does not have an anti-union stance, and works within the legal and social frameworks of the countries in which the company operates. 

Mowi's position is that if BFAWU reaches membership numbers greater than a minority, they would open a dialogue, avoiding the Union having to go through a formal legal process. However, this minimum threshold has not yet been reached, Mowi said.

"To date, we have not received any indication from our employees that a formal recognition agreement is being sought, and our company will choose to act at the direction of our employees," the Mowi Scotland spokesperson told WeAreAquaculture.

The spokesperson also referred to the company's code of conduct, which stipulates that Mowi recognises its employees' right to organise and engage in collective bargaining.

Around 800 full and part-time staff are employed at Mowi Scotland's Rosyth processing plant, which supplies fresh and smoked salmon products to a variety of supermarkets.

WeAreAquaculture has also approached The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union for comment.

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