Strike threat at Gunstones

Gunstones' Ian Higginbotham, Brian Taylor, Richard Johnson and Duncan Clark. ndet 96250.
Gunstones' Ian Higginbotham, Brian Taylor, Richard Johnson and Duncan Clark. ndet 96250.

HUNDREDS of workers at one of the region’s biggest employers have voted for strike action over planned changes to wages.

Gunstones Bakery, on Stubley Lane, Dronfield, has proposed reducing time-and-a-half and double-time payments for weekend shift work, changing bank holiday payments and cutting attendance bonuses.

But a ballot among 800 members of the BFAWU union on Friday, March 2, showed 95.3per cent were prepared to go on strike and only 4.7 were opposed.

David Sorby, of the BFAWU, said: “This ballot shows the strength of feeling on the shop floor over plans to remove certain terms and conditions.

“People here live hand-to-mouth and they’re worried because if someone takes £20 off their wages it can have a massive effect. We hope we can resolve this situation before we have to go on strike.”

The BFAWU balloted for strike action after talks broke down with 2 Sisters Food Group which owns Gunstones and employs around 1,100 people at the Stubley Lane site.

Mr Sorby claims the company’s proposed changes could result in a 20per cent cut in wages for some or a £30 to £70 a week wage loss depending on shifts.

However, the BFAWU re-launched talks yesterday, Wednesday, March 7, and hopes the company will re-consider union proposals to secure wages.

Gunstones’ baker Ian Higginbotham said: “For people with families these changes could be harsh so I will be willing to strike but we all hope it won’t come to that.”

Colleague Richard Johnson, who travels from Bolsover and has a family to support, said if the changes go ahead it would badly affect his take home pay.

Workmate Duncan Clark added: “It’s good to see colleagues sticking together.”

A 2 Sisters spokesman said Gunstones is operating well in difficult and competitive times with high inflation but it needed to sustain its future with lower costs.

He added: “We need to ensure Gunstones can remain a viable site and we’ll continue to work with the trade unions to discuss proposals. We’re still confident of working towards a resolution.”