23 September 2013
“Thanks for all you have done for our members at Wigan. You have been a great help to us in our fight”
Geoff Atkinson (BFAWU No.4 Organising Regional Secretary) to Unite the Resistance
“The BFAWU would like to thank Hovis (Premier Foods) for finally sitting down with us in order to find a solution to what was becoming a very bitter dispute over the use of zero hours contracts and agency labour at the Wigan bakery. We applaud both Union and company representatives for reaching a settlement that is satisfactory for all concerned.
Having worked together with the company in order to minimise the use of agency labour at the Wigan site, it has been agreed that agency labour will only be used when there is insufficient commitment by employees to work overtime and banked hours. Any agency employee who works a minimum of thirty-nine hours per week for twelve consecutive weeks will be moved to parity pay. The company has also committed to reviewing agency use and manning levels after three months with a view to recruitment into required positions should those manning levels prove to be insufficient. This commitment will not only enable the company to retain skills on the shop floor in order to take the business forward; but also has the potential to create jobs in the local area.
Our members at Hovis have achieved an historic agreement with the company. Having already brought about the end of zero hours contracts leading to twenty-four new permanent jobs, the action taken by those workers has ensured that zero hours contracts will not be provided by a third party. It also means that attempts to use the Swedish Derogation model have been scrapped, with manning levels being reviewed and the possibility of recruitment should the need to use agency arise. This landmark action by two hundred and ten members of a modest sized Union along with meaningful negotiations with the company has brought about significant change that could potentially have a positive knock-on effect throughout the entire labour movement. The leadership shown by BFAWU full-time officials and shop stewards in addition to the immense support received from fellow Unions, Trades Councils and Members of Parliament along with the general public and other activist/political organisations, has helped to achieve a settlement that has fully justified the direct action taken by those concerned.
This result is one that can and should be used as a starting point for all UK workers. They should no longer be prepared to accept the driving down of their terms and conditions as part of a nationwide race to the bottom. They have the right to real pay and real employment with real contracts; leaving a credible legacy for future generations of working people. There is no place in any civilised society for exploitation, whereby the individual takes all the risks and receives minimum pay, no rewards and no long-term security for themselves or their families.
The BFAWU would like to thank the relevant Trades Councils and members of Unite, UCU, Unison, PCS,GMB, FBU,URTU, RMT, ASLEF, NUJ, the Manchester I.T. Workers Group and the NUT along with the TUC, LRC, GFTU, Unite the Resistance and Right to Work for their immense support and generosity. We would also like to thank the Socialist Party, the SWP and the Communist Party in addition to Labour Party MPs for their support, especially the local Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, who was prepared to stand up for these ordinary working people in the political arena. Finally, the Union would like to express sincere gratitude to all those who sent messages of support and donations to the strike fund as well as those who visited the picket line and helped supply regular refreshments to our members. The show of mass solidarity we have received during this dispute has been truly phenomenal.
BFAWU members at Hovis, Wigan now want to turn their attention to the job of making high quality bread products in order to help the company maintain good service levels and reach its targets so that in 2014, they can submit a terms and conditions application that reflects everybody’s hard work and commitment to a successful business”.