Danish dairy major Arla Foods is hoping to contain a labour dispute in its domestic market that has seen 125 employees go on strike.

Members of the HK union at eight Arla’s dairies walked out yesterday (15 April) in a dispute over pay. It is understood the workers are laboratory technicians.

The facilities affected are Denmark Protein, Bislev, AKAFA, HOCO, Taulov, ARINCO, Esbjerg and Rødkærsbro dairies and the Arla Foods Ingredients Innovation Centre.

Arla representatives are holding talks with the union this morning to try and bring the row to a conclusion.

In a statement sent to Just Food, an Arla spokesperson, who described the dispute as a “Denmark-specific issue” said: “Around 125 colleagues covered by the HK collective agreement have stopped working. We see the same picture today.

“Arla is part of the Dairy Industry Employers’ Association’s collective agreement with HK. It is an agreement that HK has entered into and that HK members have approved and Arla follows the wording of that agreement.

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“Some of the employees covered by the agreement are dissatisfied with the wage increase and therefore they have stopped working. We expect HK and the union representatives to immediately enter into dialogue with them and ask them to resume work immediately. We are sorry for the situation and regret that the agreed-upon collective agreement has led to dissatisfaction.”

The Lurpak butter and Castello cheese brands owner added: “In the meantime, we are determined to minimise the implications of the work stoppages for customers and consumers as much as possible.

“Out of respect for the agreement the parties have made with each other, and for further dialogue, we have no further comment.”

When contacted by Just Food, the HK union said it does not wish to comment on the dispute, but pointed to a statement sent out by HK members issued today.

It said: “The dispute is over pay, more specifically Arla deducting the laboratory technicians in their wage supplement, resulting in a total wage increase less than DKK722 ($102.88) a month, which is less than the minimal wage increase in the collective agreement between HK and Dairy Industry Employers’ Association.

“This morning there was a meeting with representatives from HK, FH, Arla and DI at the Confederation of Danish Employers – resulting in the employees having afterwards been instructed to resume work. However, at this moment the employees are still on strike.”

In February, Arla set out plans to close a cheese factory in the Danish town of Tistrup. The company described the plant as “old” and expensive to maintain.

Arla plans to move the “majority” of the site’s cheese production to its facility in Taulov, approximately 80km away.