The Bakers Food and Workers Union (BFAWU) has claimed that Park Cake Bakeries is attempting to bypass new legislation covering agency workers and has asked local MPs for their support.
The BFAWU said John McDonnell MP is already leading Early Day Motion 2179 in support of the BFAWU, and its members will be going to ballot for industrial action.
Located at sites in Oldham and Bolton, Park Cakes is a major manufacturer of premium cakes and desserts including Marks & Spencer.
“Since January 2007, when it was bought out by Vision Capital, it has undergone some radical changes. Some permanent employees have been sacked for reasons that would have not resulted in dismissal in the past, and where there should have been mass redundancies, they offered compromise agreements instead,” said the BFAWU.
“In our opinion, this was done in order to avoid their legal obligations such as consultation and paying the agreed redundancy packages. This then enables the company to replace their workforce with agency labour.”
It has also claimed that the firm was planning on introducing new contracts without consultation and without agreement.
Park Cakes said it had consulted with the unions on the introduction of new contracts for new employees, but the union and company could not meet an agreement on the recruitment of new employees.
The BFAWU said Park Cakes intended to “bypass legislation brought in to protect vulnerable workers which will result in workers who would have expected to receive wages and terms and conditions better than minimum, now being replaced with minimum statutory terms and conditions, loss of shift payments and overtime rates”. “There will also be a removal of sick pay and pensions as well as redundancy rights,” it added.
In response to these claims, a spokesperson for Park Cakes said: “Park Cake Bakeries has not recruited any temporary staff. There are 33 new permanent operative positions some of which are on a new part time shift and some are on full time 39 hour contracts, which is normal full time shift hours for our employees.”
The firm confirmed a new contract had been introduced for future employees joining the business, but said existing staff contracts were unaffected by these changes, and would remain on their existing terms.
“The new contract is on statutory or higher wages depending on skills and experience,” added the spokesperson.