Memorandum submitted by the Transport
and General Workers Union (O77)
The Transport and General Workers Union is the
largest food Union in the UK. We represent over 100,000 workers
throughout the supply chain employed in sectors stretching from
"plough through to plate".
In particular the T&G has a key interest
in the sugar industry. We are the rural trade union recognised
to represent and bargain for thousands of agricultural workers,
and also have 600 members employed within the sugar beet processing
As well as this direct sugar industry interest
the T&G is also recognised by confectionary industry giants
such as Nestle, Cadbury and Coca Cola for the purpose of representation
and collective bargaining.
The T&G is therefore a key stakeholder within
the domestic review process and greatly welcomes the opportunity
to contribute to the debate.
The T&G have been surprised by the lack
of any Government impact assessment into the consequences of adopting
any of the reform options on UK jobs and communities. We believe
that there are potentially very serious implications for employment
in both sugar processing and agriculture as a result of the proposals.
There are over 600 workers employed
in sugar beet processingmany in rural areas.
There are estimated to be 7,000 sugar
beet farms producing sugar for UK processors.
We are also aware of the concerns of the confectionary
manufacturing industry in relation to sugar prices. The T&G
believe that it would be irresponsible of Government to not independently
assess the possible consequences of the proposed reforms.
We believe that Government should
implement proposals to establish independent social-economic impact
assessments into the UK employment consequences of each of the
We believe that Government should
not make a final decision before making the conclusions of the
assessments publicly available and allowing further stakeholder
The T&G believe review of EU
sugar regime is needed.
We acknowledge that the current review is appropriate.
We do not believe that the "status quo" is sustainable
and therefore wish to see reform that may lead to a more accessible
market whilst also taking into account the serious social-economic
impacts of change on EU domestic economies.
The T&G recognise strong concerns
connected with EU sugar dumping on to world market.
We recognise that dumping EU sugar on developing
country markets is not sustainable and wish to see reform take
account of this to the benefit of the poorest LDC countries.
The T&G believe that the views
of the LDC member states are pivotal.
We believe that reform that leads to greater
access to European markets should be of benefit to the poorest
countries not just those with the infrastructure to take advantage
of an open market. We are concerned that a zealot approach to
deregulation and liberalisation will not be to the benefit of
LDC countries in particular.
The T&G believe the UK carries
a unique position within the EU market.
We believe that the UK is unique within the
EU regime as producers and processors in the UK are not responsible
for the tonnage dumped onto the world market. Therefore we believe
that the Government should take account of this when choosing
which reform option to support.
The T&G believe that UK prices
need to be comparable to average EU prices.
We acknowledge that UK prices for sugar have
been estimated to be 10% above the European average, and therefore
acknowledge that this extra cost may have a negative impact on
the UK confectionary manufacturing industry. We do not believe
that there should be sudden and/or drastic price cuts within the
European market as a result of reform, but do appreciate that
price comparability throughout Europe would be an advantage to
the UK food manufacturing base.
The T&G believe that the most
liberalising, deregulatory option for reform is the least beneficial.
We believe that for both UK sugar workers and
the LDC sugar industriesas they themselves have acknowledgedthat
"Option 3" would be the least beneficial and we therefore
oppose any moves towards this approach to reform. Reliance on
volatile world market prices would make it unsustainable for many
developing countries to develop sugar as a viable export industry,
and the drastic reduction in European price would mean that the
UK industry would be exposed to severe if not impossible market
20 April 2004