Staff of quintessentially British retailer Barbour, have today gone on strike for four weeks, following disputes over wages and working hours.
The global lifestyle brand will see 70 of its Gateshead warehouse workers on a walkout between 7.30am and 1pm, every Monday to Friday from today until 30 January, the date that staff have been given until to sign a new deal.
Barbour faces the strike after making contract changes to terms and hours, whereby an unsocial hour‘s payment has been removed and replaced with a requirement to work until late at night. The Unite Union has said that employees face dismissal if they refuse to comply.
The qualms seem just given that Barbour is being “anti-family” as Unite put it.
A statement from Barbour said:
“We feel we‘ve done everything possible to work with the union and our employees to alleviate their concerns. The introduction of new shift patterns includes a substantial pay increase and standard working hours on a Monday to Friday basis.”
According to Fazia Hussain-Brown, Regional Officer at Unite, however, the waxed jacket maker has failed to negotiate ahead of the end-of-the-month deadline.
“Many of the workers struggling to get by on less than the living wage are the sole bread winner and have family or caring responsibilities,” said Hussain-Brown.
She added that “the company should not underestimate the resolve of the workforce nor the impact that four weeks of strike action will have on supplies.”
Hussain-Brown accused Barbour of taking no action to reach a settlement, following a four-day walkout in December.
The fashion retailer has previously said it would offer a “substantial pay increase” for the move to new shift patterns, which were necessary to satisfy customer demand. The proposed changes include working hours from 7am to 3pm and 2.30pm to 10.30pm.