Unhappy workers at a Tyneside sweet factory are close to striking a deal with bosses.
Staff at the Nestlé factory in Fawdon, Newcastle have had “constructive” talks with management over restructuring plans.
They expressed concern when proposals understood to include changes to paid break entitlements and shift patterns were put forward last year.
No redundancies are thought to be planned as part of the changes but unions claimed pay packets could be slashed for full-time employees.
The confectionery giant insisted changes were necessary “in order to ensure the longer term security of the site”.
More than 450 factory floor staff have been locked in talks with bosses since last summer and threatened to strike if no resolution was found.
A ballot was held by the trades union asking staff to vote on the company’s pay offer, with all 377 workers who voted rejecting it.
But now it appears that a pay deal has been struck, with changes to shift patterns to be finalised later.
A source said:
“We are being given a 2% pay rise and another one in July. The factory is also looking at taking on more staff, although shift patterns probably won’t be sorted until a later date.
“Staff are happier now than they were a few months ago, when there was real unrest. They were threatening to strike but that is not the case any more.”
The Fawdon plant, on Rowan Drive, is second only to York as the company’s largest factory in the UK and opened in 1958.
It was the centre of a police probe earlier this year when unidentified pink tablets were found among Jelly Tots on the factory’s production line.
As well as Jelly Tots the other popular brands manufactured at the plant include Fruit Pastilles, Rolo, Blue Riband, Breakaway, Yorkie, Drifter and Caramac.
It is thought to produce around 40,000 tons of chocolate a year.
A Nestlé spokesman said: “We have had a number of constructive discussions with the trades union and these will continue.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 19 Feb 2015