UNION leaders are locked in a major dispute with bosses at a meat processing plant amid claims workers are being docked pay to take toilet breaks.

Officials from Unite union say they have evidence from 100 workers at the Dunbia plant in Sawley that their wage is cut every time they go to the lavatory.

But the company has strongly denied the claims — and said employees’ weekly wages were compensated for any money taken away for toilet breaks.

A third of the workforce at the plant in Gisburn Road have submitted an official grievance to the company bosses demanding a change in the toilet break policy, according to Unite.

Cathy Rudderforth, regional officer for Unite, said they tried to speak to Dunbia ‘numerous times’ in recent weeks.

He said: “It’s outrageous that in 2009 workers have to endure the indignity of clocking out for toilet breaks.”

The Lancashire Telegraph asked Dunbia a number of questions about the system, but the firm said it did not want to add to its official statement.

The statement said the scheme had been running ‘satisfactorily’ for five years.

It read: “Employees are required to clock in and out when accessing / leaving major food processing production floor areas, including visiting the toilet, to ensure their safety and wellbeing on site.

“Employees are paid this additional allowance, even where they do not use the time allocated for toilet breaks.”

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans called on the two sides to reach an agreement.

He said: “Going to the toilet is a natural thing and I can’t imagine that people are taking breaks which are affecting productivity.

“I do hope that the unions and the management pencil in a speedy meeting and come up with a solution because the firm is a major employer and I would like to see it go from strength to strength.”