Workplace Report June 2007

Bargaining news

Compulsory overtime creates discontent

A deal which gave a significant pay rise to 500 workers at Caterpillar Products' construction machinery plant in Leicester has turned sour because they are being told to work too much overtime.

The four-year agreement, signed last November, provided for a 4.5% rise in year one for hourly paid staff plus a £500 one-off payment. Pay increases in 2007-2009 will be based on the retail price index plus 0.5% but capped at 4.0%.

As part of the deal, all employees were required to sign new contracts which contained significant changes to terms and conditions. These included the introduction of compulsory overtime, which was originally presented as being an occasional requirement. However, according to the Unite general union, since the deal was signed, workers have been regularly told to do up to two hours' overtime, usually at short notice.

Discontent is running high and union officials believe that, had workers known what was in store, they would have been unlikely to vote in favour of the deal.