Unite members at Hanson Building Products near Peterborough are to vote on strike action over reduction in their holiday entitlement.
The kiln burners, a distinct group of thirteen workers within the 200-strong workforce, previously enjoyed four days more annual leave than other workers in recognition of their longer working week. Recently, holiday entitlements have been equalised, but the kiln burners are still expected to work an extra four and a half hours per week.
National officers of both Unite and GMB, who sat on the internal disputes panel, support the workers’ call to get their additional holidays back but, despite Unite’s best efforts to reach a settlement, management have refused to move on the issue.
"Management want it both ways," said Unite regional industrial officer Tony Ellingford, "They won’t reinstate the extra holidays, but neither will they pay overtime rate for the additional hours."
There has been no strike at the brick works in 20 years but, in a recent consultative ballot, members voted unanimously to proceed to a postal strike ballot. Though small in number, the kiln burners have specialist skills and responsibility for controlling the kiln temperatures, a job which other workers cannot perform, so any strike will significantly affect production.
The postal ballot is due to open in three weeks’ time and strike action is planned to take place around Easter unless management reach an acceptable deal. Unite will report further on this story as it progresses.