Barbour says without the changes it is imperilling the prosperity of the business

Barbour says without the changes it is imperilling the prosperity of the business

As a strike by workers at two J Barbour & Sons warehouses continues, the British clothing maker has said that without the contract changes at it is imperilling the prosperity of the business.

The strike centres around alterations that include the removal of an unsocial hours payment and the introduction of a requirement to work until 11pm. The Unite union says workers have been told they must sign the new deal by 30 January or face being fired.

However, in a statement released today (9 January), Barbour said it has moved the shift end time to 10:30pm, and will provide a mini-bus service to staff who depend on public transport to get home. It added that it has also offered them a 10% pay rise, which is 17% above the national average for warehouse shift workers.

Barbour said discussions with Unite are ongoing, and the firm is to meet with arbitration service Acas on Monday (12 January) to try to reach an agreement.

Brenda Readman-Bell, finance and IT director at Barbour, who is leading the discussions, said: "Barbour needs to introduce the changes to the shift system because we are at capacity in the warehouse both in terms of meeting health and safety obligations and in delivering efficiency.

"Without making these necessary changes to the shift patterns we are imperilling the prosperity of our business and this has major implications for the livelihood of our entire workforce."

Barbour operates three warehouses employing 180 people. The industrial action involves two warehouses, and of the 160 people based there, 65 are union members. Of these, 33 voted for strike action.

The workers have completed the first week of a planned month-long strike, and marched to Barbour's headquarters in South Shields today to outline their concerns. They are calling on the brand's chair, Dame Margaret Barbour, to try to resolve the dispute. The strike follows a six-day stoppage in December.