Printers vote for 13.5% pay cut

image captionThe pay cut, averaging £4,050 per person, comes into effect on 1 April

Workers at the Goodhead Group, one of the UK's biggest magazine printing firms, have voted to accept a 13.5% cut in their basic pay rates.

The staff at plants in Bicester and Banbury voted by 4-1 in favour of the cut, on a turnout of 83.5% of the 550 employees.

The loss-making company first proposed the plan last month as an alternative to making some staff redundant.

The pay cut will amount to an average of £4,050 per person.

David Holland, the firm's chairman, said he was very pleased.

"We wanted a decisive result and we got it," he said.

"Had it been marginal, we would have been worried about winning hearts and minds. At this level, we have a very strong mandate."

The wage cut will come into effect from 1 April.

Court action?

The Goodhead group is owned by Sir John Madejski, owner of Reading football club.

The firm has two main printing plants, BGP in Bicester and Stones in Banbury.

It had argued that it needed to cut its wage bill as the final part of a plan to stem its losses, which have amounted to £69m in the past five years.

The Unite trade union, which represents about 90 staff at the group, had threatened to take the company to court for by-passing the union in the firm's recent consultation exercise.

Goodhead has refused to have any dealings with the union, arguing it was no longer recognised for collective negotiations.

Steve Sibbald, a national official for Unite, said its threat of legal action was not an empty one.

"It was obvious right from the start it [the wage cut] was going to be accepted," he said.

"The workforce have had to listen to the threat that their jobs have been in jeopardy.

"It is now likely now that if they do implement the change, we will take court action for individuals who do not want to accept," he added.

Mr Holland dismissed Unite's threat.

"We will wait and see what happens, but I am not really bothered," he said.

"They don't represent many people and I would advise them not to waste their money," he added.

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