Socialist Worker

Packaging workers take action over their hours at Sharpak in Yate

by Tim Flossman
Issue No. 2434

From 6am on Tuesday and Thursday of last week, the small town of Yate, just outside Bristol, saw cheerful and determined pickets waving Unite union flags.

This is the first time a strike has been called at the Sharpak Yate factory. Workers there make plastic trays for supermarket chicken, mushrooms and fresh fruit.

Workers with decades of service say they have been driven to strike by the company’s insistence to impose an extension of the working week.

Bosses want to increase it from 37 to 40 hours. 

The lengthening of the shorter Friday shift would set a precedent for not paying overtime and impose on weekend night shift workers in particular.

Workers who work days have joined the dispute in solidarity with those who will feel the worst effects. “I’m proud of everybody for making the effort,” said one worker.  “I’ve got a life outside this factory.”

Workers also struck on 2 and 4 December. They plan 24-hour stoppages every Tuesday and Thursday.

As a result the local management team has asked the Acas conciliation service to help resolve the dispute. This is in marked contrast to the overbearing attitude that management took before the strike was called.

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Article information

Tue 16 Dec 2014, 16:52 GMT
Issue No. 2434
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