Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dispute Firm to Be Sold Off

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dispute Firm to Be Sold Off

Article excerpt

Byline: By Rebekah Ashby

Bosses have put a North-East company up for sale following an industrial dispute with its staff.

More than 100 workers involved in a pay row at Reed Packaging in Gateshead could now lose their jobs.

The Reed Print Group last night admitted Reed Packaging - which makes food and pharmaceutical cartons in Dunston - is now for sale.

It also warned workers they face losing their jobs if a buyer isn't found.

The news came after workers at the company threatened a work-to-rule after the firm forced them to accept being paid monthly, rather then weekly.

Reed Packaging, formerly Kelly Packaging, was put on the market the same day as co-workers at Reed Print & Design (RP&D) began their industrial action.

Around 85 RP&D workers who were transferred to the Gateshead facility after its Washington factory was hit by a blaze three months ago, have already been told their jobs are going and are due to leave in three weeks' time.

Union leaders last night described the move by the family-run business as "despicable."

And Gateshead East and Washington West MP Joyce Quin said last night that she would be investigating what was going on at the plant.

The firm says the decision to sell has been

made following union demands for more pay and an unofficial overtime ban.

Mike Griffith, national officer of the GPMU union, said: "We are now seeing the long term plans of the Reed family who have amassed a fortune over the many years they have provided employment in the North-East. The action of these people is quite despicable. I'm firmly of the opinion that many of the announcements being made at the moment have been planned in advance."

He added: "The union offered to co-operate immediately with new shift arrangements, but unreasonable demands were placed on our members and various changes of contract, including a movement from weekly to monthly pay, have been imposed.

"They have refused to accept any variations on their ideals in staffing levels or new shift patterns. The way they are treating hard-working and loyal workers is disgraceful. …

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