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Haughley: Pay dispute letter claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds sent to food firm

10:00 20 February 2014

The chicken factory at the 2 Sisters Food Factory in Haughley

The chicken factory at the 2 Sisters Food Factory in Haughley

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Workers may be entitled to thousands of pounds in an equal pay dispute against a closed Suffolk food factory, it has been claimed.

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The 2 Sisters Food Group site, which employed up to 700 workers in Haughley Park, near Stowmarket, closed in November.

More than 250 positions were offered to the 450 permanent workers for roles at the company’s other sites in East Anglia following the site shutting.

But now 57 former members of staff have lodged formal grievances with the company in an equal pay dispute, according to claims management company Pay Justice.

A 2 Sisters spokesman said the firm was reviewing a written grievance letter it had received.

Paul Robertson, advisor for Pay Justice, said: “We feel that there is a claim otherwise we would not have referred it to our lawyers who believe there is a case –neither of us would have done this if we did not think it would be successful.

“We feel there’s a pay difference between men and women and we do know there’s legislation to stop that happening.”

Mr Robertson said confidence in the workers’ claim was underlined as their lawyers, Leigh Day, had accepted it as a “no-win no-fee” application.

The dispute centres around Pay Justice’s claim that production line roles at the factory, which Mr Robertson said were female-dominated, were paid less than in comparable positions which mainly men worked in.

Mr Robertson claimed workers on the production line were on average getting £1.50 less per hour compared to male-dominated roles such as in despatch.

The spokesman for 2 Sisters said: “We can confirm that we have received a written grievance and we are currently reviewing its contents. It would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

Pay Justice argue the roles were of equal importance and should therefore get the same pay.

Male-dominated positions were also more likely to be eligible for bonuses and allowances, Mr Robertson claimed.

The maximum claim individuals can file against 2 Sisters can be for a period of almost six years which could work out, if successful, to about £20,000 per worker for those who had been there that long, Pay Justice said.

Mr Robertson said out of the 57 workers the average length of service was between three to four years.

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