Union officials claim they are being denied access to a Huddersfield factory to talk to their members.

The GMB has criticised a “draconian decision” by management at Aspley furniture manufacturer J T Ellis & Co not to let union officials on site to deal with union business and represent GMB members – even though a long-established trade union recognition agreement is in place.

The union said its members deserved better than to have to stand on the factory gates to discuss union business with their representatives.

It said it had repeatedly requested access to discuss workplace and industry-wide issues with members and had given a commitment to the company that there would be no impact on production.

Andrew Aldwinkle, GMB full-time official, said: “All we want to do is work with the company to make sure it’s a success so that in turn our members reap some of the benefits.

“However, because the company are refusing us access we are now having to engage with our members at the factory gates. This is not an effective way to conduct union business and does very little for promoting a good industrial relationship.”


He said: “For the last year we have tried to get some regular access to speak to members which is my role as regional organiser. The company have used every excuse to not allow me in. They have persistently refused.”

Mr Aldwinkle said the intention was to talk to employees when they came to the canteen – not to interrupt production.

Tom Ellis, managing director of the family firm based on Silver Street, Aspley, said the company “has not changed anything” regarding its relationship with the union. GMB officials were “absolutely” allowed on site to meet shop stewards or management while shop stewards were allowed to attend union courses.

He said: “We abide by our statutory duties to meet with the union as we always have done whenever they request to do so and allow them to meet with their shop stewards whenever they request.”

The company, which was founded in 1891, designs and manufacturers furniture for a wide range of retail, corporate and commercial clients including schools, hotels and kitchens at its 200,000sq ft factory.