October 1 2014 Latest news:
Monday, May 12, 2014
A company which employed up to 700 workers at a Suffolk food factory has confirmed it is to officially dispute a pay claim made by employees.
2 Sisters Food Group’s site at Haughley Park, near Stowmarket, closed in November but since then 57 workers, backed by the group Pay Justice, have claimed they are due thousands of pounds in compensation.
They argue they were not paid equally to colleagues in equivalent roles but who worked in different departments.
2 Sisters has now responded to the formal grievances lodged with the company. A spokeswoman for the firm said: “We have received and responded to a claim. We dispute the claim and have provided information in support of that.
“As a result of our response we understand the claimants have now been asked to provide more information.”
Pay Justice said the move would mean a tribunal will have to begin unless a settlement can be reached.
Paul Robertson, adviser for Pay Justice, said: “We were hoping that 2 Sisters would recognise their responsibilities before it went all the way to expensive legal proceedings.
“Proceedings will now be progressed with Leigh Day, our legal partners, who are carrying on with the case.
“We still believe that the claims are true. Although 2 Sisters have at the moment disputed the case and the initial claim, it does not mean it will go all the way. There’s still ground for negotiation at some point.”
He said a date for an initial tribunal case management hearing could be set for the coming months.
The dispute centres around Pay Justice’s claim that production line roles at the factory, which Mr Robertson has said were female-dominated, were paid less than in comparable positions which men mainly worked in.
It has been claimed that production workers were getting on average £1.50 less per hour compared to male-dominated roles such as in despatch.
Pay Justice has said the maximum claim individuals can file against 2 Sisters can be for an employment period of almost six years which could work out, if successful, to about £20,000 per worker.