Suffolk poultry catchers win battle as plan for Christmas day working rescinded

Specialist poultry catchers in Suffolk have notched up a significant victory after a plan to make them work on Christmas day, Boxing day and new year’s day has been rescinded.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said that it now wanted to continue the constructive dialogue with the employer, Hook 2 Sisters at Eye, Suffolk, to iron out a number of outstanding issues affecting the seven poultry catchers.

The poultry catchers are a vital cog in the chicken production process as they go to farms in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk to ‘capture’ the chickens being reared in sheds and put them in crates. The chickens are then taken to factories for slaughter.

Unite regional officer Steve Harley said: “We have been in constant dialogue with the management and delighted with the progress made so far, which means that our members will now not be working on Christmas day, Boxing day and new year’s day.

"Our members had been balloted for strike action, but this has now been suspended while talks continue with the company. Our members are working normally.

“The employer has also agreed to suspend the notice period for the changes to the poultry catchers’ contracts, thus ending the threat to dismiss them from their current contracts.

“There are a number of less controversial concerns within the proposed contract that are still outstanding, but I believe that with an open, flexible and sensible approach we should finally reach an agreement which is acceptable to all sides.”