18 February 1998
Magnet strikers open chicken farm

STRIKERS at the Magnet joinery factory in Darlington have decided to set up a chicken farm next door to their former boss to evade threats of legal action for secondary picketing.

A spokesman for Alan Bowkett, chief executive of Magnets parent company Berisford, and whose £1.5 million Cambridge mansion backs on to the newly opened chicken farm, described the farm as a “childish stunt”.

But lawyers had advised the strikers that it was the only way of getting round the legislation. So the chicken farm – dubbed “Camp Bowkett” – officially opened yesterday with three chickens. However, the opening was marred when one of the chickens escaped and was run over on the A428.

Mr Bowkett – who last year received a £124,000 pay rise – was described as a “fat cat of the highest order” by GMB union national secretary Phil Davies. GMB rented the land opposite Mr Bowketts mansion and is backing the strikers.

  • The Times 18/02/98 page 29 (City Diary)
  • The Guardian 18/02/98 page 3