Talks held to avert strike action

WORKERS, union officials and managers at one of Suffolk's largest engineering firms have held crunch talks in a bid to avoid strike action over a dispute about working hours.

WORKERS, union officials and managers at one of Suffolk's largest engineering firms have held crunch talks in a bid to avoid strike action over a dispute about working hours.

The EADT have learned that an emergency meeting was held at Sudbury's Delphi Automotive Systems, the town's largest employer, early yesterdayto reach an agreement suitable to all sides.

Nearly 60% of those who took part in a ballot at the factory voted in favour of industrial action if the management do not commit to protecting existing working hours and conditions at the firm.

Problems first arose at the site when 21 night workers received termination of contract notices, which will be enforced in May if they do not agree to change their working hours. It is feared another 13 night workers could receive identical notices in the near future.


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The move would mean the workers would have to work an extra night a week or transfer to double-day shifts, resulting in a loss of between £1,600 and £2,400 a year in wages.

Officials from both the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) and Amicus union, who between them represent the factory's 640 shop-floor workers, are backing the workers and say the management would be in breach of contract if it goes ahead with the plans.

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In light of what has happened to the night workers, union official are pushing bosses to give assurance that further reshuffles of working conditions throughout the firm are not being planned.

They added that a strike could happen if the assurances are not forthcoming.

Workers and union officials met with managers to present a list of proposals to be considered, which they hope could provide a solution to the problems.

Senior shop steward Phil Wilson said: “We can confirm that we have had a meeting with managers today and have presented them with a number of proposals to think about.

“One of the proposals is that they pull back the termination of contract notices issued to the night workers and that other working patterns are protected.

“We have also suggested other ways of making changes without disrupting the workers. We hope they will take the proposals on board and that strike action can be avoided. If not we will hand the matter to outside union officials.”

The factory's human resources manager Steve Coppock was not available for comment yesterday, but previously he said: “We remain open to new communication with union officials and the management team is committed to the long-term interests of the plant workforce.”

Another meeting is due to be held next week.

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