Unions show anger over ‘heavy-handed’ bosses at Derby factory

Bosses at a Derby company have been branded as “heavy-handed” after unions claimed that workers are being asked to work for up to an extra four weeks a year.

The Unite union says that its 160 members at Reckitt Benckiser (RB) will hold a strike ballot after they faced working either an extra 107 hours or 157 hours a year, depending on their contract.

RB is based at Sinfin Lane and makes iconic brands such as Dettol and Mr Sheen.

Unite regional officer Kevin Hepworth said: “What we have here is a so-called progressive multinational giant trying to bulldoze through a harsh increase in working hours which could mean up to an extra four weeks a year.

“We are blaming heavy-handed bosses in Derby for morale plummeting over the last two years and for these ill thought-out plans where even Christmas, Boxing and New Year’s Day will be treated as normal working days.

“Under these plans, which the company wants to introduce from 1 August, many employees could lose up to £1,600 a year as the hours they get paid overtime rates for currently will now be part of the normal working week.

“At a time when most progressive companies are looking to reduce the working week to improve work/life balance, here is a management hell-bent on trying to force many workers to increase their working time by an extra 157 hours to 2,190 hours per year.

“Our dedicated and hardworking members are aghast at what the management is planning and, if the bosses don’t have a radical rethink, strike action later this summer is very much on the cards.”

However, a spokesoerson for RB told TheBusinessDesk.com that this wasn’t the case. A statement released to us said: “RB is implementing contractual changes to radically simplify employee contracts across our site in Derby. The proposed changes will help RB to retain a competitive edge in today’s challenging manufacturing environment and ensure the longevity of manufacturing at our site in Derby.

“The working conditions and ongoing health and safety of our employees is of paramount importance to RB. We engaged and consulted Unite in January on the contractual changes and continue to work closely with Unite to support our employees, and answer any questions they may have.”

The industrial dispute that Unite members are being balloted over relates to: “The employer imposing detrimental changes to Terms & Conditions, including increasing working hours to 2,190 per year.”