Strike ballot for biscuit makers

Geoff Atkinson, Bakers, Food and Allied Services Union

Geoff Atkinson, Bakers, Food and Allied Services Union

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WORKERS at a biscuit factory are on the verge of industrial action after negotiations between staff and management broke down.

Allied Workers Union members at Kirkham’s Fox’s Biscuit Factory are to be balloted this week despite a three per cent pay and conditions rise being put to them by bosses.

Talk of strike action comes as union leaders rejected the pay rise for the third time.

Geoff Atkinson, the organising regional secretary for the BFAW, said the company wanted to make changes involving cutting redundancy payments and double pay on Sundays and bank holiday working. He told The Gazette: “We have had numerous meetings with the company since the back end of last year and have balloted three times on the company’s offer of three per cent.

“The union put forward a recommendation to reject the three per cent increase and the workers chose to do this.

“A strike is now the only way we have got left to go.

“Consultation about the strike can be extended, but the company seems hell bent on keeping September 19 for the final day of consultation.”

He confirmed the union had recommended its members at the Kirkham site, which employs around 400 people, and a sister factory in Batley, West Yorkshire, accept the pay offer.

Mr Atkinson added: “The company flatly refuses to change the terms and conditions.

“But I’ve heard nothing from the company and will not know what’s going on until the end of the consultation period.

“We have been in lengthy meetings with the company but the offer has changed on two or three occasions and we have balloted that offer.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the owners said its offer was “an attractive one in the current climate” and insisted they hoped a solution could still be found. He added: “These changes are essential for us to remain competitive and for our sites to be viable for the future, in what is a tough biscuits market.

“We would be very disappointed if strike action was proposed.”