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Posted on 24 September 2013 at 11:00 GMT

Hovis - strike leads to settlement

Extract from a BFAWU press release

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 39 hours per week for 12 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 24 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 210 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.

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