Employees at Hovis’ Wigan bakery are to hold three weeks of strikes in response to the use of zero-hour contracts by parent company Premier Foods.

The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) balloted its members in order to seek a mandate for industrial action. It said the result was overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

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.

Earlier this month, British Baker reported that the BFAWU was at loggerheads with Premier over its decision to use agency staff at its Hovis factory in Cale Lane, Wigan.

Geoff Atkinson, organising regional secretary (Manchester/Merseyside region), at the BFAWU, had told British Baker, there had been a number of redundancies at the site in the early part of this year, but agency staff were then brought in in April.

The union said staff at Hovis had already reduced their hours, and subsequently their pay, in a bid to reduce the need for redundancies. “However, after long and protracted discussions with the union, the company decided to proceed with job losses,” it said.

The BFAWU added that once the redundancies were made, “the company decided to renege on long-standing recognition agreements and make up the ensuing staff shortfall with agency labour, with many being utilised on an ‘as and when’ basis, in other words; zero-hour contracts”.

Further branch meetings will also be held to extend the industrial action, unless Premier comes to a satisfactory agreement with the union on the withdrawal of agency staff, it said.