Unions to meet bosses over hours dispute

BOSSES at an engineering firm say they will hold fresh talks with union officials in a bid to avoid strike action over an on-going dispute about working hours.

BOSSES at an engineering firm say they will hold fresh talks with union officials in a bid to avoid strike action over an on-going dispute about working hours.

Workers at Sudbury's Delphi Automotive Systems, the town's largest employer, have voted in favour of taking industrial action if managers do not move to protect existing working terms and conditions.

Bosses released a statement following another early-morning demonstration by night workers yesterday, who have been told they will lose their jobs unless they agree to change working hours.

Human Resources manager Steve Coppocksaid: "We are aware of the consultative ballot taking place and remain open to new communication with union officials.


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"The management team is committed to the long-term interests of the plant workforce whilst maximising the overall benefits of £60m invested in new production facilities, staff training and recruitment. We do, of course, want to avoid any sort of industrial action."

Problems erupted at the factory off Newton Road, when 21 night workers were served with termination of contract notices, which will be enforced if they do not agree to change their working patterns. Another 13 members of the night shift expect to 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 unions Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) and Amicus, who between them represent the factory's 640-shop floor workers, say the management would be in breach of contract if the notices were enforced and have vowed to fight the move.

The unions are demanding the firm now moves to protect current working terms and conditions throughout the factory. They fear the changes put forward for night-staff could set a precedent and other unpopular changes could follow.

Nearly 60% of the 473 workers who took part in a ballot this week voted in favour of industrial action if the management was not forthcoming with assurances.

Kevin Browning, a senior TGWU steward, said: "Both unions are backing the night-workers and we will consider strike action if the bosses refuse to back down."

The factory employs 810 people, but the numbers have fallen from 900 in the past two years. Just weeks ago the company announced it wanted to shed a further 20 jobs under a "voluntary separation scheme", where employees leave the firm on an agreed financial package.

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