MP Jonathan Reynolds has highlighted the successful co-operation between employer and employees at a Hyde-based factory, as part of a Parliamentary debate on industrial policy.
The debate – which Mr Reynolds secured following an application to the Backbench Business Committee – focussed on the need for an industrial policy to support the manufacturing sector in the UK.
And Mr Reynolds, who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Manufacturing, outlined a number of areas of current concern, including skills, procurement and finance.
He also highlighted the need for employers and employees to work together and the valuable role that can be played by trade unions.
Focussing on the way employees in Hyde had worked with employers at Kerry Foods to develop a seven-day shift pattern, he said: “A few years ago, Kerry needed to adopt the principles of lean manufacturing. It needed to be able to scale its production up and down much more quickly in order to remain competitive, and it therefore needed to consider moving from a five-days-a-week to a seven-days-a-week working pattern.
“That had big implications for the work force, who were strongly unionised, so Kerry decided to work with them and with Unite, the recognised trade union, to deliver it.
“In effect, Kerry told the union what it needed, and the union asked the work force to design a shift system that worked for them.
“[. . . ] My constituents who work for the company have told me that they felt that the consultation process had been extremely sincere, inclusive and open to recommendations, and that input from the union had made it into the final proposals.
“[. . . ] I gave that example in order to demonstrate that trade unions are not in themselves anti-competitive, and do not constitute a blockage to our economic prosperity. Given the right approach, they can make a very significant contribution to British industry.”
During his speech – the first of the debate – Mr Reynolds pointed to the need for the private and public sector to work together. He suggested the need to investigate ways skills funding could be devolved to business, in return for the provision of high-quality apprenticeships.
He echoed the need for businesses to have access to finance and suggests steps should be taken to ensure procurement policy worked for the UK economy in an intelligent way.
Mr Reynolds – who applied for the debate jointed with Conservative MP Chris White - also emphasised the need for cross party consensus in the drawing up of industrial policy.
The debate was held on Thursday 22 November and the full debate can be accessed here
Published 27 November, 2012