Promens pay claim stalemate

PUBLISHED: 17:19 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 07:33 01 August 2010

A union representing striking workers at the Promens plastics factory in Beccles this week called on the company to “act sensibly” and stop ignoring them.

A union representing striking workers at the Promens plastics factory in Beccles this week called on the company to “act sensibly” and stop ignoring them.

Staff at Promens Packaging on the Ellough industrial estate staged their fifth 24 hour walk-out on Friday because they are not happy with a 2.2pc pay offer.

Steve Hart, regional secretary of the union, Unite, joined workers on the picket line and said while the

union was still keen to reach a settlement, Promens was refusing to talk.

He said: “We have a company that does not seem to want to talk, does not want to enter into constructive dialogue. We have made it absolutely clear we are ready to talk. We want to get round the table and we want this company to act sensibly and make a decent offer.”

Later Promens said they would be willing to start negotiations if the union could come up with a workable plan. Sharon Hill, human resources manager, said: “If they want the extra money, they need to come up with options of how they feel if could be potentially funded and we will consider them. The ball's in their court.”

Promens said it did not have any more money for workers and had already made cut backs in order to reach the current offer.

But Mr Hart said he believed the money was there. He said: “When I have examined this company, they seem to be a company doing reasonably well. I am confident they can find the money to settle this - of course they can.”

Mrs Hill said: “The problem is that they are looking at the group as a whole, not at the UK. Beccles has lost money again this year and it's on target for 2008 to lose money again.

“We are not at the stage of shutting the gates but we have to get back into profitability.”

Workers have already lost five days' pay over the last three weeks and a week long walk-out by warehouse staff began on Friday morning.

But one employee, who did not want to be named, said they were still determined despite losing money. She said: “It's worth it. I'm here for the long haul. We are trying to say something and we want people to listen.”

Mr Hart said the workers would continue to take action against a “derisory” pay offer and that Unite would consider approaching more senior management at Promens.

He said: “We are looking into whether we need to make contact higher up in this company to make progress - possibly the global management in Iceland.

“We are also investigating making contact with the customers at Promens.”

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