Factory strike is called off

A STRIKE at one of north Suffolk's largest employers has been called off after bosses agreed not to alter shift patterns.Workers at Bernard Matthews' turkey plants at Holton, near Halesworth, and Great Witchingham in Norfolk called off their strike planned for Monday.

A STRIKE at one of north Suffolk's largest employers has been called off after bosses agreed not to alter shift patterns.

Workers at Bernard Matthews' turkey plants at Holton, near Halesworth, and Great Witchingham in Norfolk called off their strike planned for Monday.

Representatives of the Transport and General Workers' Union said workers had been prepared to strike over the company's plans to extend the working week from four days to five.

Union leaders said the workers were upset over the shift pattern changes and if the industrial action had gone ahead it would have been the first “family friendly” strike seen in the UK.


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However, in a statement circulated to workers at both plants yesterday, union leaders said the scrapping of the shift changes, a three per cent pay rise, and a one per cent increase on pensions represented the best deal that could be achieved.

“It has taken a long time but we felt vindicated in the stand we have taken for our members and the rest of the workforce,” said Peter Medhurst, T&G regional industrial organiser.

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“Our key aim throughout this long drawn out affair was to see the shift changes scrapped. We have achieved that key aim and won a pay and pension rise,” he said.

The strike action and overtime ban were due to have started on Monday but have now been called off.

Workers across the production sites had protested that extending the working week would add to their cost of living and they preferred to work four days.

“We have fought back and we have made real progress.

“This will affect all the staff so we'll be encouraging all the staff to join the union to strengthen our hand in the future,” said Mr Medhurst.

Management at Bernard Matthews were delighted that the threatened strike had been called off.

“Our success and the quality of our products depend on our staff. We are committed to working with them as our recent national award by Business in the Community illustrates,” said managing director David Joll.

“This has been a complicated balance of issues. A significant number of employees did find the proposed shift patterns an improvement, particularly with the later start times.

“In addition the proposed shift patterns enabled us to offer those employees substantially more money. However, we acknowledge that some were opposed and prepared to strike over the issue,” he said.

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