Barbour today faces a final hurdle to get its striking staff back to work as union members are re-balloted over additional terms to a deal that ended industrial action last week.
Around 70 employees who voted to return to the brand’s Northeast warehouse one week into the month-long walkout over changes to contracts are requesting a reduction in the working week of 1.5 hours.
According to Barbour, this had been part of an offer made seven months ago in the early stages of the negotiations, but was rejected at the time by the union.
Barbour finance and IT director Brenda Readman-Bell, who has been leading the talks, said: “We have always said we wanted to listen and respond to all reasonable requests from our workforce during this period of change. A reduction on the length of the working week was not a focus of demand by the union in the lead-up to a deal being agreed. Subsequent discussions with the workforce have shown this is an important detail that the company is happy to include in its final offer and we fully expect a positive vote on Monday.”
Last week, the union Unite said its members had accepted a “significantly improved offer” following talks at Acas.
Exact details of the agreement were not revealed by either party but are said to include substantial pay increases and day-shift hours for those with family or caring responsibilities.
Strikes began prior to Christmas, before failed talks led to a longer walkout from January 5. The original contract changes included the need to work until 11pm without unsocial pay, according to Unite – although Barbour told Drapers staff would only work until 10.30pm and a shuttle bus would be provided. It also offered a 10% pay rise.