Striking workers at Wade Ceramics, Burslem, have been threatened with the sack unless they sign new contracts. Management at the pottery firm sent out letters yesterday to all 700 workers with the ultimatum the day after union members staged their seventh one-day strike.
Wade also served an injunction on the Ceramic and Allied Trades Union claiming the strikes were illegal. A court hearing has been fixed in Manchester on Tuesday.
General secretary Geoff Bagnall said: ''A letter was sent to all members of staff yesterday by the company saying it is going to give notice to change the contract now. If workers do not sign they will be dismissed. They are incensed.''
Staff have been staging days of action for six weeks after negotiations broke down over a new pay and conditions package offered to all employees at the company's three factories.
CATU claims the offer would leave many workers up to £90-a-week worse off because of lost bonus and shift payments.
Mr Bagnall said the company had issued the injunction against the union to say the strikes were illegal and that another strike ballot should be held.
He said: ''We will be seeking appropriate legal advice. The company is arguing that we have not complied with the relevant legislation to stage a strike - for instance by not supplying the names and addresses of all those taking part in the action.
''We are very, very disappointed that the company is taking this action. All we want to do is sit down and reach a negotiated settlement.''
Mr Bagall also revealed that two more strikes were scheduled for next week.
Today the company refused to comment.
CATU claims Wade has refused to negotiate with them and has not responded to their suggestion of talks at the arbitration service ACAS.
The union says the sweeping changes proposed by Wade management would mean the loss of shift allowance, sickness pay and severance pay, as well as removing guarantees of long-term employment and changes in pay.CATU has given members £15-a-day strike pay.