MP urges union and bosses to negotiate over Barbour strikes

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn

AN MP has urged union chiefs and managers at a South Tyneside-based clothing firm to get back into talks in a dispute over changes to workers’ contracts.

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn is calling for new communication between striking workers and management at J Barbour and Sons.



The row centres on members of the Unite union, who are unhappy at changes to their contracts.

The workers started a planned month-long strike on Monday and say the changes will see the removal of unsocial hours payments, and a requirement to work until 11pm.

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

Mr Hepburn said: “It is important that the union and management meet to sort out the problem.”

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

Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown said: “We have been told the company has requested a meeting with Stephen Hepburn, hopefully it will help to re-open the door to negotiations.”

As yet a date for the meeting between Mr Hepburn and Barbour management has not been set.

The dispute centres on the firm’s warehouses, in Wardley, Gateshead, and involves 134 of the firm’s 600 North East workers.