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AGENCY workers at the Pirelli tyre factory in Carlisle have won a backdated pay rise and permanent contracts in a historic victory against zero-hours contracts.
The workers, who are members of Unite, called off planned strike action scheduled for today after negotiations between their representatives and management reached a meaningful breakthrough.
The workers, who were employed by contractor Staffline Recruitment, were working on a “contract for services” arrangement — an effective zero-hours contract which denied them proper employment rights, guaranteed hours and job security.
After having balloted for strike action and an overtime ban earlier in the month, forklift truck drivers, store workers and process operators of the site sent a clear message of discontent in voting for strike action.
However, the management has now agreed with the union that the workers will be employed on permanent contracts. A new employer will take over a considerable portion of the existing contract.
The workers will also receive a 5 per cent pay increase, backdated to January 1, and will receive average holiday pay when taking their annual leave in the future.
The victory is being hailed across the labour movement as a historic result for agency workers and a potential source of inspiration for other strikers currently in dispute for improved workplace conditions.
Unite regional officer Malcolm Carruthers praised the result achieved by the workers on the Pirelli site as a victory for all workers in similar employment conditions.
He said: “There was absolutely no justification for workers who were effectively being employed on a permanent basis to be on contracts that do not reflect the hours they were expected to work and which were deliberately designed to deny them employment rights.
“Additionally, Unite has ensured workers receive a significant pay increase and improvements to holiday pay.
“When tackling the problems faced by workers in similar employment conditions to those at Staffline, Unite will be using the successful outcome of this dispute as an example of what can be achieved.”
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