Union threatens strike action over plans to increase weekend working

Unite the Union is threatening strike action over plans to increase weekend working at ABN in Bury S

Unite the Union is threatening strike action over plans to increase weekend working at ABN in Bury St Edmunds Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

Plans to increase weekend working for drivers at a Bury St Edmunds animal feed firm has prompted a ballot for strike action.

Unite the Union said 18 drivers at ABN, part of AB Agri, at Eastern Way, are angry at proposals to increase weekend working from one Saturday every four weeks to two Saturdays in four – with no pay rise.

Unite called the plans “an undiluted attack on the work/life balance” and said its members voted unanimously to proceed to an industrial action ballot – which includes the option of strike action.

Steve Harley, Unite regional officer, said: “Many of the drivers have families, children and, in some cases grandchildren, who they only see at weekends.

“Working days can already exceed 12 hours a day. Therefore, weekends are essential to those who want a proper work/life balance and time to be with their families.

“We regard attempts by the bosses to impose an extra Saturday every four weeks as an undiluted attack on that balance. Insult has been added to injury as no pay rise is envisaged for this extra commitment.

“The management served notice some time ago of this change, which it then suspended. It has now triggered the remaining notice of 31 days after which it expects the drivers to comply with additional Saturday working – this is unacceptable.

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“Unite is disappointed that the company has chosen to impose this unilaterally and without agreement. We have told the management that the drivers won’t comply with the demand for extra Saturday working.

“However, Unite’s door is always open for constructive talks before this dispute escalates with the forthcoming industrial action ballot.”

ABN said the company has worked hard to reach an agreement.

A spokeswoman said: “We have been discussing a change to the shift pattern for our drivers at Bury St Edmunds Feed mill for more than 12 months.

“The change to shift pattern at Bury Feed mill is allowable under the current workplace agreement and is required to enable us to effectively meet the needs of our customers.

“Throughout the consultation we believe we have been open and fair to our employees and have worked hard to reach an agreement for how the change should be made.

“Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, we have not been able to reach an agreement and we are aware of the decision taken to ballot for industrial action.

“While we will be moving ahead with the allowable change to shift pattern, we remain committed to discussions with our drivers.”