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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 07:27 GMT 08:27 UK
Matthews u-turn after strike vote
Bernard Matthews truck
The firm is known for its fresh and frozen turkey
Bernard Matthews has decided to drop plans to extend the working week after workers voted to strike in protest.

But the Transport and General Workers Union said a strike would go ahead at plants in Norfolk and Suffolk after a vote rejected a proposed five-day week.

Within an hour of an announcement of the action a factory spokesman said it would cause "financial hardship" to staff who did not want to strike. The firm would "withdraw changes to the shift patterns" he added.

Only 429 people voted in favour of strike action out of a workforce of 3200
Bernard Matthews managing director David Joll

Bernard Matthews managing director David Joll said: "A strike would cause financial hardship to the vast majority of our employees who do not wish to take part in this action.

"We are therefore prepared to withdraw the change to shift patterns in order to further understand the problems of the minority who voted for a strike.

"Only 429 people voted in favour of strike action out of a workforce of 3200.

"We are surprised that a small minority vote can result in such an action particularly when the union said that it had "no mandate" when the result of the ballot was first declared.

"In the week in which we were nationally recognised by the Business in the Community for our work with our staff, we find this doubly disappointing," he added.

TGWU defiant

But TGWU regional officer Peter Medhurst said: "We have no plans to withdraw our strike threat until we know the full details of the proposal.

"Bernard Matthews had since March 30 to negotiate with us. But the first I've heard of a withdrawal is a statement to the media.

"But if they're prepared to come up with a proposal we'll look at it."

A member of the TGWU is expected to hold talks with Bernard Matthews on Wednesday.

Staff currently work a 10-hour shift pattern over four days in the week but the company wants to introduce a traditional five-day week.

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