Unite has welcomed the decision of the management at the 3M factory in Newtown Aycliffe, County Durham, to reverse their previous pronouncement and allow workers to enjoy a Christmas holiday.
3M, which makes respirators and dust masks, was labelled a ‘Scrooge employer’ by Unite after telling workers that for the first time in living memory they would be expected to work on the three days between Christmas and new year.
However this week in an about face, possibly following a visit from the ghost of Christmas future, management has relented and said there is now “no operational requirement” for the majority of the workforce to be in work over the festive period (with just a handful of volunteers present).
Management had threatened to cancel Christmas after Unite members at the plant rejected a 1.5 per cent pay increase for 2017. The proposed pay increase is half the inflation rate and follows a series of below inflation pay increases in previous years.
The union is currently balloting its members for strike action in the pay dispute. The ballot closes on Wednesday (December 13).
“Our members will be pleased and relieved that they will not be required to work between Christmas and new year for the first time in living memory,” said Unite regional officer Mark Sanderson.
“Having seen reason on Christmas working we now need the employer to see reason on the pay increase, return to the negotiating table and make an offer that the dedicated workforce will be able to accept,” he added.
“Our members have seen pay rates eroded over recent years and are simply not going to accept cuts in pay any longer.”