Plans to increase Saturday working for 18 transport drivers at AB Agriculture in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk has prompted a ballot for industrial action.

Unite, the country’s largest union, said  that its members at the animal feed firm were angry at proposals to increase weekend working from one Saturday every four weeks to two Saturdays in four – with no pay rise.

Unite said that the plans were ‘an undiluted attack on the work/life balance’ and its drivers had voted unanimously to proceed to an industrial action ballot, which will include the option of strike action, at the Eastern Way site. 

Unite regional officer Steve Harley said: “Many of the drivers have families, children and, in some cases grandchildren, who they only see at weekends.

“Working days can already exceed 12 hours a day. Therefore, weekends are essential to those who want a proper work/life balance and time to be with their families. 

“We regard attempts by the bosses to impose an extra Saturday every four weeks as an undiluted attack on that balance. Insult has been added to injury as no pay rise is envisaged for this extra commitment.

“The management served notice some time ago of this change, which it then suspended. It has now triggered the remaining notice of 31 days after which it expects the drivers to comply with additional Saturday working – this is unacceptable. 

“Unite is disappointed that the company has chosen to impose this unilaterally and without agreement. We have told the management that the drivers won’t comply with the demand for extra Saturday working.

“However, Unite’s door is always open for constructive talks before this dispute escalates with the forthcoming industrial action ballot.”

The ballot is expected to be held later this month and the result known by mid-September. 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065