Workers at Wade Ceramics today stepped up their action with a two-day strike in a long-running row over pay and conditions. The 700 employees at three Burslem factories said management had backed down over threats of a lock-out without pay.
All the shopfloor members of the pottery workers union CATU were sent letters telling them that if they took strike action today and tomorrow there would be no work for them on Friday -- and they should stay at home.
The strikers said management yesterday wrote a second letter telling them they could work normally on Friday.
Talks between management and the union continued all yesterday with CATU officials putting new proposals.
Geoff Bagnall, CATU general secretary, said he believed some progress had been made towards settling the dispute.
He said: ''We put some proposals forward and the company said they would respond next week.
''When the talks finished at 4pm it was too late to consider calling off the strikes for this week and they have gone ahead.
''We are pleased the management withdrew their threat of what we called a lock-out.''
The dispute centres on the company's proposal to change conditions of employment.
The workers claim this would mean a loss of shift allowances, sickness pay and severance pay with the plan costing some employees up to £100 a week.
Today the workers said they were as determined as ever to fight the proposals.
One striker said: ''All three factories are joining in this action but we will be back at work on Friday.
''We believe the company has probably real-ised it would be against the law to lock us out. It is now up to the union to try to sort out this dispute, but we are prepared to take further action until a settlement is reached.''
Today a Wade spokeswoman said managing director Alan Cooper had nothing to say about the strike.