Hovis Best of Both

Hovis bread workers have called off a third strike planned for today

Premier Foods has reached an agreement with the bakers union – averting a strike scheduled to start at its Hovis plant in Wigan this morning.

Members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) employed at the plant were today due to begin the third of three scheduled week-long strikes today over the use of temporary agency staff on zero-hour contracts.

The action was called off after Premier and the union agreed that, in the event of temporary labour shortages, these would be covered by existing employees utilising overtime and banked hours – although agency staff will be used if employees cannot cover the shortages. Premier has also committed to move any agency employee who works a minimum of 39 hours per week for 12 consecutive weeks to the same pay level as existing employees.

The situation is to be reviewed after three months to assess whether existing manning levels were sufficient. If not, Premier said it would recruit to fill the required positions.

In a statement, the company added: “The agreement reinforces our previous assurances that we have no intention of replacing permanent employees with agency staff or using agency staff as a lever to erode existing employees’ terms and conditions.

“Over and above these arrangements, we will progress our previous offer to establish a senior-level forum consisting of senior management from Premier Foods, national and local union representatives to work on how we rebuild trust at the Wigan site and build a stronger partnership for the future.”