Workers at a North East company are to strike for THIRTEEN days in a pay row.

The Unite union says there are further talks planned later today and it is not too late for management at Birtley Group and Bowater Doors to make a "realistic" pay offer, while a spokesperson for the management team told us today "negotiations are ongoing with Unite", but the strike looks set to hit supplies for customers such as Redrow, Bovis, Persimmon, Crest Nicholson and Countryside Properties.

The 124 members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, are spread across the two companies which share the same premises and are both part of the same parent company Hill & Smith Holdings PLC.

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The Birtley workforce produce lintels for the construction industry, while Bowater produce UPVC doors for residential and business customers.

The workers will take an initial 13 days of strike action beginning on Wednesday 10 August and ending on Monday 22 August. This could then be followed by a further 16 days of strike action beginning on Sunday 4 September and ending on Monday 19 September. A continuous overtime ban will also be in place from Wednesday 10 August.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said; “The parent company is making record profits on the backs of our members hard work. It can fully afford to make a fair pay award but has chosen not to.

The Northern Echo: The Birtley siteThe Birtley site

“Unite is dedicated to prioritising the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. Our members at Birtley Group and Bowater Doors, many of whom are barely earning above the minimum wage, will receive Unite’s total support until this dispute is resolved and they receive an offer which meets their expectations.”

The union says the dispute is a result of the company making a "derisory" pay award in January, with workers on different grades receiving different increases, all of which were far below the rate of inflation. They claim some of the workers receive just the national minimum wage while others are barely paid above just this rate. 

Unite regional officer Pat McCourt said: “Strike action will cause severe disruption to the companies’ clients, but this dispute is entirely of their own making, due to the failure to make a fair offer to the loyal workforce.

“Even at this late stage industrial action can be avoided by the companies making a realistic pay offer.”


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