Workers at a Hovis bread factory in Wigan have gone on strike over the introduction of agency workers on zero-hour contracts.

A spokesperson for Premier Foods said that they were “disappointed” that the dispute was not resolved, and that they would continue to work towards a satisfactory outcome.

They added: “The limited use of agency labour to cover seasonal peaks, holiday and sickness absence is an integral part of our operational flexibility, which 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 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. 

“Agency employees are necessarily contracted with the agency they work for and their terms and conditions are decided by the agency concerned.”

The action at the Wigan bakery, one of 10 Hovis sites in the UK, could impact deliveries of bread in the north-west.

The spokesperson explained that in order to avoid any disruption to customers during the strike, Premier Foods will continue to supply its core range of products from across its bakery network.

Production will also continue at the Wigan bakery with the support of those employees not involved in the strike.

Prior to the strike, British Baker reported that the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) said staff at Hovis had already reduced their hours, and subsequently their pay, in a bid to reduce the need for redundancies.

Workers are due to strike from 6am on 28 August to 6am on 4 September, 6am on 11 September to 6am on 18 September, and 6am on 25 September to 6am on 2 October.