Workers at Premier Foods’ Hovis production plant in Wigan have launched a second wave of strike action in protest over the use of agency labour.

The company has increased its use of agency labour to cover sickness and holiday pay, a spokesperson for the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union told just-food. Agency workers cost around half the hourly rate of Premier’s contracted workforce and the union fear the use of un-contracted workers is part of a broader move to erode terms and conditions, the union official added.

Responding to the fresh industrial action, Premier said it continues to “search for a satisfactory outcome”.

“The limited use of agency labour to cover seasonal and operational peaks, short term holiday leave and sickness absence is an integral part of our operational flexibility that is understood and accepted by all our other sites,” the company said.

“It is not, and has never been, our intention to replace full time staff with agency labour at our Wigan bakery or to use agency labour as a way of eroding the terms and conditions of our full time employees.”

Around 220 bakery workers first moved to strike at the Wigan bakery at the end of last month. Further strike action towards the end of September has not been ruled out.