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2 Sisters workers accept reduced pay and working conditions

By Lorraine Mullaney , 03-Sep-2012
Last updated the 03-Sep-2012 at 09:11 GMT

Cavaghan & Gray workers have voted to compromise with parent company 2 Sisters in their dispute over reduced pay and working conditions.

The row escalated since the 2 Sisters Food Group bought the Carlisle ready meals manufacturer in April 2011 and proposed reduced rates of pay for sickness, redundancy, overtime and bank holiday working.

2 Sisters issued the following statement to FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Cavaghan & Gray in Carlisle, part of 2 Sisters Food Group, confirms that a ballot took place on August 29 2012, with regard to the proposed changes to the substantive agreement, and resulted in 81% voting to accept the changes.”

The main point of compromise was 2 Sisters’ proposal to reduce the enhanced redundancy package to statutory pay for all, according to the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW).

In a meeting on August 16, 2 Sisters management agreed (subject to workers agreeing to the other changes) to leave the enhanced redundancy agreement as it stands: statutory pay, plus another payment in line with the entitlement for every year of service equal to a week’s pay.

2 Sisters ‘gives in’

“The company has given in on enhanced redundancy, which employees see as a massive breakthrough,” Jayne Shotton, USDAW area organiser, told FoodManufacture.co.uk.

In the USDAW ballot on August 29, 335 out of 413 members who voted accepted the new terms and conditions. These included overtime payments being reduced from double time and time and a half to time and a half and time and a quarter.

Workers also agreed to work three Bank Holidays per year for pay at time and a quarter plus days off in lieu. Bank Holidays used to be non-working days, so those who volunteered to work them were paid double time plus a day in lieu. 2 Sisters wanted all employees to work all Bank Holidays for time and a quarter.

Consultation period ends

A spokeswoman from 2 Sisters told FoodManufacture.co.uk: As the company’s proposals have been accepted, the period of 90 days consultation, which commenced on June 26 2012, will cease with effect from August 29 2012. We would like to thank all those who voted.”

Shotton said she hoped that this would see the final end of the dispute.

“Management said they don’t want to do death by a thousand cuts, they’re making all the changes in one swoop,” she said.

She warned that workers might be not be so keen to compromise if 2 Sisters proposed further changes to terms and conditions of working in the future.

“We have to hope they don’t come to us again because, if they do, the feeling will be a lot stronger among the workforce,” she said.

New terms and conditions of working will be effective from January 1 2013.