Papermaking sector employers and unions set to sign new employment relations deal

Employers and trade unions in the papermaking industry are poised to sign a new agreement that sets out a new approach to employment relations.

A joint group comprising senior officials from the trade unions Amicus, the Transport and General Workers’ Union and the GMB, has worked out a new partnership agreement with employers.

It sets out modern approaches to aspects such as work-life balance, dignity at work, learning and skills, flexibility and productivity.

The papermaking industry employs more than 10,000 people at over 60 locations in the UK but has struggled to remain competitive in the face of strong international competition and soaring energy prices.

Papermaking, along with printing, is one of the few industries in the UK to have industry-wide bargaining arrangements. A dispute over pay in 2004 prompted employers and unions to consider better ways to work together.

The Department of Trade and Industry gave its support to the project that included assistance from conciliation service Acas to consult on the way forward.

Amicus will now brief union representatives on the agreement and ballot its members over the next few weeks.

Martin Oldman, director-general of the Confederation of Paper Industries, the representative body of employers, said: “The new agreement takes us away from the old adversarial approach to a better common platform to jointly tackle the issues that hamper productivity and profitability in the workplace.”

Tony Burke, Amicus assistant general secretary, said the new deal was “an important step” in securing modern working terms across the industry.

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