LONDON — British outerwear firm Barbour said Tuesday that the strike by employees at its Gateshead, northern England warehouse has ended, with employees accepting a new deal concerning their working patterns.
Following a ballot Tuesday, staff have now agreed to Barbour’s introduction of a two-shift system at the warehouse, which the firm said was the culmination of “eight months of negotiation.” Barbour said in the statement that the two daily shifts were needed to “maximize the warehouse facility,” to accommodate the company’s growth.
In a separate statement Tuesday, the Unite trade union, whose members had been striking, said that the new agreement meant “substantial increases in pay,” and day shift working for those employees with family and caring responsibilities. The firm and union members reached the agreement after entering talks through Acas, the British government’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, on Monday.
As reported, a number of Unite members who work at the warehouse had been periodically striking since late December, over the proposed changes to their working patterns. According to Unite, the original changes involved requiring employees to work until 11 p.m. on alternate weeks and removing an unsocial hours payment, which Barbour had countered at the time was in exchange for an overall increase in pay. A spokeswoman for Barbour declined to comment on the specific terms of the new agreement Tuesday.
Brenda Readman-Bell, finance and IT director at Barbour, said in the firm’s statement: “It is essential we have the flexibility to manage the business to the good of our entire workforce, and the acceptance of the new deal is indicative of the company’s determination to be fair in order to achieve this satisfactory outcome for all.”
Commenting in Unite’s statement, Fazia Hussain-Brown, Unite regional officer, said the new deal had been accepted by the “majority” of Unite’s members at the factory. “This hard won outcome would not have been possible without the resolve of the workers who faced being sacked if they didn’t sign up to inferior contracts,” said Hussain-Brown. “We trust that we can now move forward with the employer in a spirit of cooperation and ensure the Barbour brand continues to be a global success story.”