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Originally published on This is the Sentinel  By Peter Holmes

Pottery firm Wade today broke its silence on the long-running pay dispute, demanding a new ballot of striking workers. 

The Burslem-based company accused the pottery workers' union CATU of refusing to ballot its members on the pay and conditions package which they claim would safeguard the future of the company.

But CATU has hit back saying the new contracts on offer had been "overwhelmingly rejected" by its members at shop floor meetings.

Edward Duke - chief executive of Beauford plc, the Leeds-based owners of Wade - said almost half the 743 employees would get a rise in pay averaging £15 a week under the proposal.

But 198 of the employees would lose out by an average of £20 a week.

Just 10 of those would lose the £90 a week quoted by many employees.

Mr Duke said: ''I feel very sorry for those people who will lose money but these moves are essential to keep our prices competitive with the Far East.

''We have good order books but need the flexibility to move employees to different production areas to cope with peaks and troughs in our different products.''

He said he believed the only sticking point to a settlement was a one-off payment to those workers who would lose money.

He said: ''The union started by asking for 65 times the weekly loss in earnings.

''We have offered 30 times the weekly loss and the union now wants 40 times. We simply cannot afford the additional £70,000 this would cost the company.''

CATU general secretary Geoff Bagnall agreed that when the members voted for strikes in December, they had not been told the details of the package on offer.

Speaking as workers staged their eighth one-day strike today, he said: ''We have since spoken to the workers and they do not want the new contracts. From our point of view we are still a long way from a settlement.

''As well as wanting more compensation for those who will lose money we have asked the company to consider a wages freeze for those who will lose more than £30 a week.

''This will mean they will not get pay rises until the general pay level catches up.

''We also want to see those people not prepared to accept the contracts offered redundancy terms and there are a number of other matters which need to be discussed.''

On Tuesday, Wade lost a court battle to stop further strike action.

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