Pontefract Haribo factory faces strike threat

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Workers at Pontefract’s Haribo factory will be balloted on strike action on Monday after claims they could be forced to work over the Christmas period.

The GMB union will ballot more than 270 members on whether they would be willing to take strike action after it claims the company ignored proposals to resolve a dispute about staff having to work on December 29 and 30.

Steve Huckerby, GMB regional organiser, said: “This dispute has been caused by the company dictating to its employees rather than co-operating with them.

“Members have had enough of the company’s attitude of imposing conditions irrespective of what we have agreed, or what members’ family arrangements are.”

“GMB suggested to the company some time ago to ask for volunteers to work over the Christmas period and put forward an incentive and the GMB felt sure the required number of employees would offer to work without any problems.

“However the company has ignored this suggestion and is forcing members to work. That has now resulted in the ballot for strike action.”

A Haribo spokesman said the company has been in consultation with employees since July in relation to working on December 29 and December 30.

He added: “We are surprised and disappointed that a ballot for official strike action has been called.

“As part of this process, we have invited any employee who does not want to work on these dates to submit holiday requests, this opportunity has already been taken up by a number of team members.

“Where applicable we have also honoured existing holiday plans and ensured those colleagues have been given the time off work.

“In addition, any employee working these dates will receive their existing pay, two additional days of holiday which could be taken at an alternative time or be paid in lieu and as a sign of our appreciation they will also receive an additional attendance and productivity bonus should our targets be met.

“Acknowledging the success of our business, Haribo will continue to reward team members throughout 2015, with the introduction of a new productivity bonus. It is also important to note that Haribo continues to reinvest its profits back into the region, with £92m being invested into a new purpose built facility, which will operate in addition to the existing Pontefract based factory. Through the new site, which is based at Junction 31 of the M62, Haribo will create 286 new jobs.

“This supports our continued commitment and investment in manufacturing excellence within the UK.”