New union leader makes fresh calls for Made In England backstamp
NEW pottery union boss Harry Hockaday is calling on the Government to adopt new rules which make clear where goods sold in the UK are made.
Mr Hockaday says shoppers should be allowed a more informed choice of where pottery ware is manufactured.
He has identified the issue as one of his priorities as he started his new role this week after taking over from previous general secretary Geoff Bagnall.
Mr Hockaday, pictured, says he is also planning to focus on increasing membership and help firms cope with the spiralling cost of energy.
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The 57-year-old, from Kidsgrove, became involved with Unity during his 12 years as a gilder at Royal Worcester Porcelain. He became a works representative before being appointed a full-time union official 16 years ago. He said Unity will be urging the Government to adopt rules that would force goods sold in the UK to have clear country of manufacture labelling.
He said: "We can never stop companies producing things abroad, but we need a level playing field when it comes to back-stamping.
"It's not right to have things masquerading as being made in the UK.
"Consumers would be able to make a more informed choice. If something was made in China or wherever, it would have to say that, so companies would not be able to get away with having just the company name and England underneath."
Unity is working with West Midlands MEP Michael Cashman, a long-time campaigner for clearer mark of origin rules, and Mr Hockaday recently attended a meeting in Brussels about the issue.
Mr Hockaday also said one of the biggest issues facing the firms that union members work for is spiralling gas and electricity prices. He said: "All manufacturing, not just the areas we represent, faces being crippled by the huge cost of power.
"We are working with employers to try to get some Government support.
"It is a very big issue; recently we saw Jesse Shirley, a long-established company, going into receivership purely because it couldn't afford the cost of fuel."
Mr Hockaday said he wanted to stabilise and then increase membership.
He added: "I do believe there's a place for the smaller trade union.
"I think it's easier to build up relationships not only with members, but also employers."
Unity, based at Hillcrest House in Hanley, currently has 4,200 members, of which around 10 per cent are from outside the ceramic sector.
Mr Hockaday said: "The ceramics industry has for many years formed the majority of our membership, but a lot of our members moved into other areas when they were made redundant.
"Hopefully we can now start to grow from outside the ceramics sector. We've recently been approached by a non-ceramic company looking to get us on board as a union."
Dr Laura Cohen, chief executive of the British Ceramic Confederation, added: "We support all efforts to ensure the proper and legal use of origin marking and to prevent misleading or illegal origin marking claims."