United Biscuits is facing the threat of industrial action at its McVitie’s Cake Company plant in Halifax.

Workers’ Union Unite said the company was looking to cut costs following changes to its contract with Mars that come into force on 1 April, and is planning to introduce new shift patterns that could see workers lose up to £3,000 a year in wages.

Forty workers at the West Yorkshire plant that produces cakes and cake bars are being consulted on the next steps in the dispute, and the union added that industrial reaction could not be ruled out.

Unite said the workers, who currently earn about £24,500, have been told their current 24/7 shift patterns will be changed to a Monday to Friday 24-hour shift system with the workers only required for 11 Saturdays. Unite said pay packets could fall by between £3,100 and £4,400 depending on overtime worked.    

UBUK described the proposals as “part of our ongoing commitment to delivering modern, efficient and competitive operations at Halifax, and seek to further improve efficiency and effectiveness at the site”.

With regards to the changes to the Mars contract it added: “United Biscuits has a longstanding relationship with many of its customers and these continue, with changes in demand occurring as part of business demand fluctuations.”

The company said a maximum of eight roles at the site would be made redundant and about 30 affected by changes to shift patterns.  “Wherever possible we will look to minimise the impact of the proposed restructure for employees and there are 10 vacant roles in other parts of the business which have been identified as potential redeployment opportunities,” added a UBUK spokesman.

Unite regional officer Sarah Mitchell said the union had had lengthy talks with the company over the proposed changes.

“The company is pressing ahead with the voluntary redundancy programme and the changes in the shift patterns regardless, and Unite will be consulting its members in the coming week about the next steps in this dispute,” she added. “The possibility of industrial action can’t be ruled out at this stage – and we would urge the management to continue to talk to Unite about the situation that it finds itself in.”