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DHL supermarket deliveries of coffee were looking increasngly uncertain this week after the Unite union escalated its threat against Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) and announced overtime bans among staff from next month.

The dispute over the Dutch-owned company’s so-called ‘fire and rehire’ strategy among workers at its Banbury, Oxfordshire site stepped up a gear after nearly 300 union members agreed to eschew overtime from 1 May.

Unite said this will progress to full-scale strike action in June, unless JDE’s management entered into constructive negotiations.

JDE said earlier this week that there was “an overwhelming need” to overhaul operations at the Banbury site and that it was disappointed with the union’s ballot for industrial action.

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However, Joe Clarke, Unite national officer for the foods industry, said: “The overtime ban will lead to disruption to the smooth supply of the company’s top coffee products, such as Tassimo, Kenco and L’OR Coffee, to the nation’s supermarket shelves.

“Already sections of the Banbury plant rely on overtime to keep production running to schedule.

“Recent managerial actions have soured what were harmonious employment relations for half a century.”

JDE has said it will compensate those financially impacted by its plans and that the majority would gain financially.

It urged the union to engage constructively and said it had asked ACAS to help them reach an agreement.

DHL was unable to respond as we went to press.