Tin can printers strike

Envases Liverpool hit by strikes after ‘fire and rehire’ tactics

Around 100 staff will strike under Unite's banner in late September
Unite represents the 11 printers at the Envases factory

Print workers at an industrial metal canister manufacturer have voted to take strike action after the firm required them to accept new contracts or be dismissed.

Around 11 printers at Envases Liverpool will begin strikes on 12-14 June, with further action taking place from 17-21 June and 24-25 June.

The printers, members of Unite, print on flat tin, which is then passed through the factory’s production area and converted into cans for oil, paint, and other industrial uses.

The dispute at the factory centres around a pay deal made in December 2022, where Envases Liverpool’s printers agreed to be more flexible in their work, with the understanding that they would not have to work in the production department, Unite said.

In the third quarter of 2023, the company began requesting that the printers ignore their agreement and work in production on an ad hoc basis, Unite said; Envases Liverpool then gave formal notice to change members' terms, firstly – and incorrectly – with three months’ notice, then on the correct six months’ notice, which fell due on 1 June 2024.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Envases has behaved in a disgraceful manner in brutally firing and rehiring its workers to force though changes to working practices.

“Its bully-boy practices won’t work. Unite always backs its members to the hilt when they are fighting for improved jobs, pay and conditions and the Envases workers will receive the union’s complete support.”

Unite regional officer Gary Fairclough added: “The forthcoming strike action will bring production to a halt and cause delays and disruption throughout Envases supply chain but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making.

“A resolution to the dispute is directly in the hands of the company’s management.”

The controversial practice of forcing employees to take on new contracts, known as ‘fire and rehire’, has been a hot-button subject in recent years, with notable cases such as P&O’s dismissal of 800 workers making headline news in 2022.

An Envases spokesperson told Printweek: "Envases has been negotiating with our print staff for a long time about working flexibly to support in the Production when the business need arises. We continue to seek a dialogue and have proactively contacted ACAS to assist with mediation.

"Out of respect for the involved parties we will have no further comments at this time."