By Jeremy Grimaldi
HONDA has been forced to back down over a water ban that enraged its workers.
The company completed the u-turn during a monthly meeting.
It comes three months after an Advertiser story highlighted opposition to rules banning water, fruit, and biscuit-based chocolate bars like Twix on the shop floor.
During the meeting, staff were told the car giant would now allow employees to drink water next to the production line, however, strict new rules governing the size and colour of the bottle have been ushered in.
Staff were told that all bottles must now be 500ml, clear in colour and have a suction cap to ensure there is no spillage.
One 36-year-old worker said he believes Honda had no choice but to back down because managers weren’t happy with the ban, and it was a huge concern for often dehydrated workers.
He said: “This is a victory for the workers because it is a basic right that has now been clawed back.
“But it never should have been in question in the first place.
“Hopefully Honda recognise that for the next time.
“It was a big mistake to bring it in, they had no choice but to change their minds, as we had guys who were just going to walk off the line in certain parts of the plant in order to rehydrate themselves.
“I can appreciate their concerns about standards, but if the executives were on the line themselves I am sure they would feel differently.”
Union representatives say they negotiated the deal through the company’s Associates Representative Council (ARC).
But they say they won’t stop until rules concerning snacks and fruit are repealed, along with the water.
Jim D’Avila, Unite union representative, believes the company had no choice but to make the u-turn as associates weren’t happy and managers weren’t enforcing the rules.
He said: “We waged a well organised campaign that secured the hearts and minds of the workers.
“In the future Honda should listen to the views of the union’s shop stewards who have proved that they speak for the workforce and not Honda senior managers.”
Julie Cameron, head of corporate communications at Honda, South Marston, said the company’s rules are to ensure a high level of cleanliness.
She said: “Associates within Honda have been jointly developing a new standard with the company regarding drinking of water next to the production line.
“Honda had previously made available ample provision of drinking water within the facility, but through discussions with workers, it was felt that access could be improved and therefore a new standard was agreed.
“There was no change to any other existing company standards.”
Earlier this year, Unite members staged demon- strations outside Honda’s South Marston plant in protest at the company standards.