Two groups on the popular Facebook website call for a boycott of Kettle crisps, because the company employs a California-based union busting consultancy in the UK to discourage workers from joining the Unite union.
According to internet expert Rob Blackie, “Facebook now allows anyone to establish a pressure group in minutes - so campaigns of this sort will become increasingly common”.
Unite’s Miles Hubbard told the Guardian he was surprised at Kettle’s initiative. “They are a good company with a decent record so we cannot understand why they are being so aggressive about union activity. We were called in by the workers when they did not receive annualised payments for overtime”.
The consultancy hired by Kettle is part of the Burke Group, which is said to have an almost 100% success rate in breaking unions. However, it failed to stop the British T&G - now part of Unite - organising 400 employees of the FlyBe budget airline. British union confederation TUC has started to offer ‘bust the buster’ courses to union staff.
Kettle produces organic, upmarket crisps; sometimes sold as own-brand products by supermarkets (Dutch V&D introduced them under the name Le Marché in 2005). The company is owned by private equity firm Lion Capital, which also owns the Hema department store chain, now targeted by the Clean Clothes Campaign.