Operations at Irwin’s Bakery in Northern Ireland will not be impacted by a workers’ strike over pay, chief executive Michael Murphy has said today (21 September).

Members of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) voted to strike following a postal ballot over rates of pay and changes to the company’s sick pay scheme.

The industrial action is scheduled to start next Wednesday (26 September) and last a week.

“Irwin’s Bakery has been in close liaison with the BFAWU in recent weeks with the aim of resolving a query, brought by the 80 union members of our workforce. Of this group, 42 employees voted in favour of industrial action,” said Murphy.

“We are confident the planned industrial action will not impact upon our business operationally and we have sufficient resource in place to ensure there is no disruption to our customer base.”

He added that the business has 330 employees and hopes union members will “recognise Irwin’s commitment to working with them on the specific concerns of their members”.

Union members had rejected changes to the company sick pay scheme and an offer of 21p on all pay rates, said Laura Graham, Northern Ireland regional officer for BFAWU.

She added that, while the offer “seems to be in line” with current pay increases, workers are on a consolidated hourly rate that includes overtime and most statutory holidays. “These members have decided that this rate is no longer benefiting them and the increases being applied are not keeping up with the National Living Wage.”

Further talks are taking place with Irwin’s and a union meeting of members is happening this weekend ahead of the planned action.

“The door is open for negotiations and I am hopeful we can reach an agreement,” added Murphy.