Haughley: Legal challenge to 2 Sisters Food Group’s pay levels

The 2 Sisters chicken factory at Haughley Park.

The 2 Sisters chicken factory at Haughley Park. - Credit: Archant

Tens of thousands of pounds could be awarded to workers over a legal challenge against their pay at a food factory.

Production is set to stop today at the 2 Sisters Food Group site in Haughley Park, near Stowmarket, which employees up to 700 workers at any one time.

But now production staff are seeking to hold the company to account over an equal pay dispute.

Paul Robertson, adviser for claims management company Pay Justice, said hundreds of workers could be entitled to receive money as he claimed lowly-paid female members of staff were earning less than workers in male-dominated departments in equivalent roles.

He said workers were facing an “anxious” time as all but around 45 members of staff had accepted redundancy packages.

“We are still gathering research on pay structures,” Mr Robertson said.

“We certainly have confidence the women in production roles can make an equal pay claim. This affects the vast majority of staff in production roles – they all could claim.

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“If everyone who is entitled to claim does then out of 700 workers between half and two-thirds of the total staff maybe entitled.”

He said a handful of workers had already signed up to challenging the company, with more expected next week at a meeting.

Roles largely filled by men in despatch, security and head office were paid more than in production roles which were of equal importance, he claimed.

Pay Justice said a worker who had been employed for about six years would be in line for a claim of between £5,000-£20,000, if successful.

The 2 Sisters Food Group said pay, like any other business, varied at the factory depending on the employee’s position.

A spokesman for the company said: “Rates of pay between men and women at the Haughley Park site are the same.

“We do however, like any business, have different rates of pay dependent on job title and role and responsibilities.

“All employees doing the same job will get the same rate of pay, regardless of gender.”

He added 260 positions had been offered to 450 permanent workers for roles in the company’s other sites in East Anglia.

So far about 35 staff have redeployed with a further 10 in talks. The company said it was closing the site because it is unviable, ageing and not fit for purpose.

Staff from Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice Bureau and Job Centre Plus have met staff to talk about how to apply for future work.