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Union slams ‘sign or be sacked’ contract changes

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: May 14, 2014

protesting outside the gates in a row over new contracts which Unite claim workers are being forced to sign. Rick Coyle

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UNION bosses have branded proposed changes to Burton warehouse workers’ contracts as a ‘sign or be sacked ultimatum’ while promising to back ‘any action’ they take.

Unite representative Rick Coyle (pictured) spoke out after it emerged the Waterstones warehouse, in the Centrum 100 business park, began a 45-day consultation over new working conditions for about 180 staff.

Unipart want to introduce annual contracts of between 1,950 and 2,080 hours, rather than weekly contracts of 37.5 or 40 hours.

This would mean working more hours during peak periods like Christmas, and having paid time off during quiet periods.

But Mr Coyle said: “Unite are dismayed by the ‘sign or be sacked’ ultimatum at the Waterstones warehouse.

“Stable and predictable working patterns are vitally important for families, and for the sake of our children this is a principle we will actively defend.

“Unite will be consulting with members about the next steps. Unite will fully support any action its members decide to take.”

The consultation began on May 5, when Unipart told workers about the changes, which are planned to come into affect for early July.

The company argued the move would allow it to increase wages, cut the amount of calls for last-minute shifts and amount of time workers spent at home when there is no work.

A spokesman from the firm said safeguards would prevent working ‘excessive’ hours as health and safety was always a priority.

She said: “Obviously a few people might have circumstances that make this very difficult and we will be working with them to come up with a suitable solution.

“Many of our team members at Burton have already welcomed this change as it will provide them with greater flexibility.”

Workers have also received reassurances that no jobs are at risk at the firm, which enjoyed its most successful year in 2013.

But Mr Coyle added: “Rather than share success with the workers that made the profits, bosses are seeking to nail workers terms and conditions to the floor.”

This came as animal feed firm Rumenco, in Derby Road, Stretton, revealed that it was consulting over possible redundancies.

Operations director Richard Knight said: “We are consulting working with a small number of employees over potential job losses and cannot comment further at this time.

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