THE owners of a food manufacturing plant near Sanquhar say they are trying to resolve a pay issue affecting hundreds of employees.

Bosses at the Browns Food Group base in Kelloholm told staff that the company had "misinterpreted how statutory regulations relating to National Minimum Wage regulations have been applied".

In a letter to staff, seen by the Chronicle, the company says that the issues relate to a four-year period between February 2018 and March 2022.

Cumnock Chronicle: The site in Kelloholm.The site in Kelloholm. (Image: Street View)

A review between the company and HM Revenue and Customs brought the issue to light.

Staff were told that, if they had been affected, they would receive a one-off payment of the amount of money they are owed, as calculated by HMRC.

More than 300 people are employed at the site, though it's not known how many of them are affected by the issue.

A spokesperson for Browns Manufacturing Ltd said: "Following a review with HMRC and Browns Manufacturing Ltd it has been brought to our attention that we have misinterpreted how statutory wage regulations relating to National Minimum Wage regulations have been applied to some of our practices.

"We have been cooperating fully with HMRC and as such will rectify genuine errors made around these technicalities and reimburse impacted employees, past and present for past underpayments.

"Actions have now taken place to ensure that this will now not recur."

Staff at the food manufacturing company went on strike in August of last year in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

But the Unite trade union later announced that around 350 affected employees had secured a 13.2 per cent wage rise, bringing the dispute to an end.

The deal struck with the company includes the implementation of the 'real living wage', currently set at £12 an hour, backdated to April 2023, as well as a £250 one-off payment.

As part of the three-year deal, Unite also secured a commitment from the company to implement real living wage increases for 2024 and 2025.

Cumnock Chronicle: Staff had been taking part in strike action.Staff had been taking part in strike action. (Image: NQ Archive)

Speaking at the time of the deal, Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite’s members at Browns have secured an excellent wage deal.

"The pay increase of 13.2 per cent this year was only achieved through the brave stance our members took in taking on their employer through strike action.

"Unite will always stand up and support our members fighting back for decent jobs, pay and conditions.” 

Established in 1885, the Browns Food Group now operates from seven manufacturing sites, producing and supplying cooked meats, convenience foods and delicatessen items.

The Brown family set up the business in a butcher's shop in Biggar almost 140 years ago, and opened their Kelloholm plant, on Greystone Avenue, in 1993, becoming Brown Brothers Manufacturing Ltd.

The firm has grown through the acquisition of numerous smaller food producers over the years, most recently in 2013 when it acquired Hall's of Scotland.