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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Carlisle's Cavray factory workers reject new job terms

Workers at Cavaghan & Gray in Carlisle have rejected the company’s plans to alter terms and conditions.

Lee Sherriff photo
Lee Sherriff

2 Sisters Food Group, which owns the ready-meals producer, had asked staff to accept new over-time rates, sick-pay arrangements, redundancy terms and changes to bank holiday working.

It says the changes are necessary if the business is to remain competitive.

But in a ballot carried out by the union Usdaw, workers rejected the proposals by a two-to-one majority.

Jayne Shotton, Usdaw area organiser said: “We have advised the company that we are prepared to meet them to discuss the implications of the ballot result and trust they will return to the negotiating table to address the concerns about the package so clearly raised by our members.”

Some workers contacted the News & Star to accuse the company of intimidation.

A spokesman for 2 Sisters said: “We are disappointed with the rejection of these proposals – which are focused on ensuring Cavaghan & Gray can remain competitive and sustainable in a tough environment – particularly as the union had recommended employees accept them. We will now be re-engaging in the consultation process.”

This is the second time workers have been balloted on plans to change their terms and conditions.

They rejected the previous proposal overwhelmingly.

Lee Sherriff, a Labour city councillor for Harraby, has criticised the company’s stance.

She said: “The company knew the content of the contracts of the workers it acquired with the business.

“To try to change [them] to diminish the rights of these people is shocking.

“Too many companies are taking advantage of workers’ fears in the precarious financial climate.

“Workers are being held to ransom. Employers know people are too scared about losing their jobs to rock the boat.”

She added: “As an Usdaw member and Harraby councillor, I shall be working very closely with all concerned in the fight to save the rights of the workforce of one of Carlisle’s largest employers.”

2 Sisters is owned by the poultry magnate Ranjit Boparan, ranked joint 101st in The Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune put at £750 million.

His company bought Cavaghan & Gray from Northern Foods in a £342m deal that went through last May.


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