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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Carlisle Cavray workers claim they have been intimidated

Workers at Cavaghan & Gray in Carlisle have accused managers of “bullying and intimidation” over plans to alter terms and conditions.

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

It says these are necessary if it is to remain competitive.

The trades union Usdaw is conducting a ballot on the proposals, which closes on June 24.

It declined to comment ahead of the result.

But one of the affected workers spoke to the News & Star on condition her name is withheld.

She fears she will be victimised if her identity is revealed.

She said: “They’re saying that if we don’t accept changes we will be dismissed. You can’t treat people like that. It’s bullying and intimidation. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

This is the second time workers have been balloted on the changes. They rejected the previous proposal overwhelmingly.

The worker added: “Some people are scared. Some might say ‘yes’ this time because they have families and they are worried about their jobs but most people will still say ‘no’.”

The wife of another employee said: “My husband could lose his job and not be given proper redundancy. How can these bosses get away with it?”

2 Sisters declined to comment on the bullying allegation. But a company spokeswoman justified the proposed changes to terms and conditions.

She said: “We operate in a highly-competitive environment and we continually need to ensure that we deliver the highest quality at the lowest cost. A number of sites in the food industry have closed in recent years and we need to ensure that our sites can remain viable into the future.

“It is absolutely essential that, for the group to prosper and grow over the coming years, we ensure our costs are sustainable into the future.”

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

His company bought Cavaghan & Gray from Northern Foods in a £342m deal that went through last May. 2 Sisters said last month that 17 jobs would go at Carlisle following a restructure of back-office roles. Most will be redeployed although some face redundancy.

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