Christmas may not be so sweet for Haribo staff

6th April 2004.  Sweets roll off the production lineat the Haribo sweet factory in Pontefract.
6th April 2004. Sweets roll off the production lineat the Haribo sweet factory in Pontefract.
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Workers at Pontefract’s Haribo factory could walk out on strike after claims they could be forced to work over the Christmas period.

The GMB union will ballot more than 270 members on whether they would be willing to take strike action after it claims the company ignored proposals to resolve a dispute about staff having to work on December 29 and 30.

Steve Huckerby, GMB regional organiser, said: “Haribo has gone back on a commiment they made to the workforce that they would not be forced to work over Chistmas.

“GMB put forward proposals to the company to resolve the dispute but the company ignored them.

“The company then imposed the changes on the workforce bypassing the GMB consultation process. It is this imposition that has caused the dispute.”

The dates for the ballot will be announced shortly.

Mr Huckerby added: “The company is highly profitable and is attempting to increase their profit at the expense of their employees.

“GMB members are fed up with the company’s dictatorial attitude and they will vote for strike action to ensure that they are treated with respect.”

A Haribo spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have been in consultation with employees since July in relation to working on Monday, December 29 and Tuesday, December 30, this is in response to meeting an increase in product demand and to honour agreements with our customers.

“As part of this process we have invited any employee who does not want to work on these dates to submit holiday requests, this opportunity has already been taken up by a number of team members.

“Where applicable we have also honoured existing holiday plans. In addition any employee working these dates will receive their existing pay and as a sign of our appreciation they will also receive a bonus.

“Throughout this process Haribo has and will continue to act appropriately; we have liaised fully with employees, provided options for those team members who would prefer not to work these dates whilst making provision to reward those that do work during this two day period.” Haribo is currently building a second factory in Castleford which will create a further 286 jobs. The £92m factory off Whitwood Common Lane is expected to be complete by next April.