The owners of Hovis, Premier Foods have released a statement after workers across the UK including the bakery in Wigan began a week of strike action over zero-hours contracts.
"We are disappointed that we have not been able to resolve the dispute and will continue to search for a satisfactory outcome.
· The limited use of Agency labour to cover seasonal peaks, holiday and sickness absence is an integral part of our operational flexibility that is understood and accepted by all our other sites. It is not, and has never been, our intention to replace full time staff with Agency labour at our Wigan bakery.· The use of temporary Agency labour is commonplace throughout the food industry and other manufacturing sectors and is important to be able to cover peaks in demand, for instance in the run up to Christmas.
The need for the use of Agency labour is understood and accepted by the Unions at all our other sites and is only a relatively small proportion of our overall workforce.
· As a matter of principle, Premier Foods has moved away from the use of zero hours contracts right across the business. Indeed, we have recently written to the last remaining six employees with zero hours contracts based at our Wigan site confirming that their roles will be transferred to full-time contracts.
· Despite the Bakers Union protesting publicly about the use of zero hours contracts, they have requested the reinstatement of zero hours contracted labour in Wigan, which is something we will not agree to.
· To avoid any disruption in to our customers during the course of the strike, we will continue to supply our core range of products from across our bakery network. Production will also continue at our Wigan bakery with the support of employees not involved in industrial action.
Hovis staff in Wigan have walked out as part of a week long strike on over the introduction of agency workers on zero hours contracts.
The action could hit deliveries of bread in the North-West.
The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, said agency workers had been brought in almost immediately after nearly 30 workers were made redundant earlier this year.
A statement from the BFAWU said:
"The issue of zero-hour contracts is one that is taking up a considerable amount of column space in both local and national newspapers at the moment. The Bakers’, Food and Allied Workers Union highlighted this exploitation back in 2011 during a dispute with a well known supplier of cake products.
Unfortunately, we remained a lone voice. With honourable exceptions, the media, local politicians and the general public alike decided to remain impassive and apathetic.
Since then, the use of zero-hour contracts has reached almost epidemic proportions and it has been estimated that over a million UK workers are now employed on these contracts."
Staff at Premier Food's Hovis Wigan bakery have voted in favour of strike action following the introduction of controversial zero hours contracts.
Premier Foods has released a statement in response to the action they say:
Premier Foods is aware of recent media comments on the alleged use of zero hours contracts for employees at our Wigan bakery.
As a matter of principle, we have moved away from the use of zero hours contracts and currently have no zero hours contracted employees at the Company, including at our Wigan site.
We very much hope to resolve the issue at our Wigan bakery through further dialogue with our employees and without the need for strike action which would be damaging to the longer term interests of the site.
The Wigan bakery is part of our broader bakery network and we do not envisage any disruption for our customers should a strike go ahead.