'Significantly improved' offer

Strike action suspended as Hovis workers in Belfast vote on new pay offer

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Unite shop stewards have agreed to suspend all-out strike action, due to start on Friday (January 24), after the bread and flour firm Hovis made a new pay offer.


Ahead of the strike that has now been suspended, Hovis workers in Belfast sought a 5.1 per cent pay increase – equivalent to 37 pence per hour rise to their basic wage – after voting 88 per cent in favour of industrial action.


The Unite members were angry that after deducting shift premiums, overtime and bonuses, they received a scandalously meagre basic wage which is 90 pence below the national minimum wage threshold.


The only way their employers were able to get away with paying such low wages that fell below the mandatory minimum of £8.21 an hour is by consolidating pay with extras like overtime. But in practice this has meant that Hovis workers have had to work excessively and intensively just to earn the very minimum.


After voting in favour of strike action, management put forward a 3.2 per cent offer, which was far below the level needed to reverse the stark pay injustice Hovis workers have suffered.


But now, Unite regional officer Sean McKeever confirmed the union would be balloting members on a fresh pay offer made by the company’s management in the face of all-out strike action.


“Strike action is always a last resort for workers and our union,” he said. “Unfortunately we were left with no alternative but to proceed with plans for all-out strike action as a result of the total failure of Hovis bosses to take seriously our members’ pay expectations. The workforce had sought a decent pay uplift but were offered only 3.2 percent by management despite the negotiations going through mediation at the LRA.


“In light of the significantly improved pay offer made by management today, our team of shop stewards have agreed to suspend the action planned to commence at a minute past midnight on Friday, January 24th,” he added. “We will now proceed to ballot our members on the offer and are hoping to announce their response and next steps within a week.”


Stay tuned on UniteLive for the more updates.

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