Barbour in talks with Jarrow MP over clothing workers’ strike

Barbour warehouse staff picketing outside Beacon House, Follingsby Park, at the start of a three week strike.
Barbour warehouse staff picketing outside Beacon House, Follingsby Park, at the start of a three week strike.

JARROW MP Stephen Hepburn is to meet bosses at a strike-hit clothing firm in a bid to kick-start a resolution to the dispute.

Warehouse workers at South Shields-based J Barbour and Sons began a four-week strike on Monday, over planned changes to their working hours.

The MP is due to meet with management at the firm tomorrow, after airing his concerns over the dispute.

Workers at the firm’s warehouse in Wardley, Gateshead, are unhappy at changes in their contracts, which, they say, will see the removal of unsocial hours payments and the requirement to work until 11pm.

The company, which is based on the Simonside Industrial Estate, South Shields, says the new proposed shift pattern would be from 7am to 3pm, and 2.30pm to 10.30pm, and that the deal offers workers substantial pay rises.

Mr Hepburn said: “I have a meeting with the managing director Steve Buck.

“The issue is for the management and the trade union to sort out, I am just trying to facilitate a meeting with them.

“We have workers who are striking over January, they have had a hard Christmas and traditionally January is a difficult month for everyone.

“Hopefully, we will be able to get the union and the management together to discuss the issue.”

A spokeswoman for Barbour said: “Once we had been made aware that our local MP Stephen Hepburn had commented on the strike, we telephoned him to request an urgent meeting to understand his concerns, and to put forward our side of the story.”

The dispute involves 134 of the firm’s 600 North East workers.

Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown says she hopes tomorrow’s meeting will lead to both the union and management sitting around the negotiating table in a bid to resolve the issue.

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