Heinz staff temporary work blow

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TEMPORARY workers at Wigan’s biggest firm have blasted new employment conditions.

A third of all the non-contract production staff at Heinz - more than 40 workers - have been laid off since October, it is claimed.

The 70 ‘temporary’ staff that remain have now been put into a ‘pool’ system which means they are summoned “as and when” there is work at the giant Kitt Green canned foods plant.

A Heinz spokesman would only confirm: “As a result of significant and positive reductions in absenteeism among Heinz operations staff at Kitt Green, balanced with our production needs, we have reduced our need for temporary staff that are employed by Ranstad.

“Temporary staff continue to make a valued contribution at Kitt Green and last week alone more than 90 such staff were engaged production and operations.” Workers have also been warned the Heinz Snap Pot production line is due to become fully automated in February, leading to further job cuts.

The Wigan Evening Post has been contacted by a series of temporary workers employed via the Ranstad agency concerned about their treatment. All have asked not be identified.

Their spokesman, a 40-year-old Wigan father who has been employed as a ‘five day a week temp’ for the past six years, is so concerned he is intending to contact his Euro MP Brian Simpson to look into their treatment.

The Labour MEP had a top level meeting with Heinz bosses earlier this year to seek assurances about the company’s continuing future in Wigan.

The ‘temp’ said: “When people see the label temporary workers they automatically think of those with a couple of weeks or a couple of months covering the jobs of full timers but that isn’t the case at Heinz and a lot of us have been there for quite a few years. One lad I know is a temp and he has been there full time for 12 years.

“I find myself in the ‘pool’ but for the first time I am on my second week laid off and sitting here waiting for a call to come in.

“We are represented by the union but they seem powerless to be able to help temporary workers.”

A female temporary worker, who had worked five days a week for four years, said: “It’s like going back to the days of the docks in Liverpool where a boss would come around every morning and pick a few men from a group he happened to like the look of.”