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November 2, 2011

UK: Park Cakes workers to strike

Workers at Park Cakes have voted in favour of industrial action after the UK cakes and desserts firm changed contracts in the wake of new laws covering agency workers.

Workers at Park Cakes have voted in favour of industrial action after the UK cakes and desserts firm changed contracts in the wake of new laws covering agency workers.

Employees at the company’s sites in Bolton and Oldham have voted to strike after the new legislation was introduced last month. It aims to protect agency workers by stating that, after 12 weeks, if a company continues to use agency labour, it has to pay them the same rate of pay as permanent staff.

However, Park Cakes has responded by introducing zero-hour contracts under which agency workers will not receive the same wages as permanent employees, prompting criticism from union officials.

Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), said: “This result sends the clearest signal yet to Park Cake management and their owners, Vision Capital, that the workforce of both Bolton and Oldham will not tolerate unfairness or the introduction of law busting contracts.

“We would still encourage the company to enter meaningful negotiations with us and stop the need for any further damage. Most other companies have avoided this approach, and have reached reasonable agreements.”

The strikes are due to take place on 11, 14, 22 and 30 November in Bolton and 8, 9, 10 November and 6, 7, 8 December in Oldham.

Park Cakes insisted that the zero-hour contracts do not effect existing workers. 

“Despite the fact that the new contract has no effect on the pay of any employee recruited by the company before September, a small minority of 80 people turning up to a branch meeting determined that strike action should be taken,” Park Cakes said. 

He concluded that the company introduced the contracts for new employees to control costs and remain competitive following the effects of the recession and in order to safeguard existing jobs at its Bolton and Oldham sites. 

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