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Further strikes still on the table

PUBLISHED: 17:37 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 07:31 01 August 2010

WORKERS at a plastics factory in Beccles staged their fourth walkout in 10 days yesterday - and could now face a vote to decide whether to strike again.

WORKERS at a plastics factory in Beccles staged their fourth walkout in 10 days yesterday - and could now face a vote to decide whether to strike again.

Staff at Promens, on the Ellough industrial estate, have held four 24-hour strikes since Tuesday, July 8, because they are not happy with a 2.2pc pay increase.

Both the company and Unite, the union who represent many of the factory's workers, say they are keen to talk but so far there has been no contact between the two sides.

Yesterday the union was due to hold a meeting in Beccles to decide where to go from here.

Jane Ruffles, one of Unite's representatives, who has worked at the factory for 20 years, said although workers could not afford to lose another day's pay they were prepared to strike again.

She said: “I haven't had a day off work sick for 12 years and now I've had four days off in two weeks - that's how strongly I feel. A lot of people have families to feed but they feel they have to say something.”

She said the workers had been overwhelmed by the support they had received. She said: “We've had support from Birds Eye staff, they have got a collection going for us, and we're grateful for the public support. It's keeping our morale up.”

Sharon Hill, Promens' human resources manager, said the company had already made cutbacks in order to offer the 2.2pc rise and did not have any more money available. She added: “If they want to come with an idea we haven't thought of, we have said, 'just come back'.”

But Unite said it would continue to fight for a better offer. Ivan Crane, regional industrial organiser of the union, said: “This issue of low pay at this site will not go away. The union believes that it is possible to resolve this dispute through negotiation to the mutual benefit of both parties. Despite our willingness to resume talks at any time, the company seems resolved not to do so.”

Last night Mrs Hill said she was not aware of any attempts to restart negotiations. She said: “They have not invited us back to the table.”

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