Staff strike as year-long pay deal talks breakdown

Reporter:

Matt Jones

FACTORY workers went on strike yesterday in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Almost 40 full-time staff at the Ifor Williams Trailers (IWT) factory on Deeside Industrial Park staged a one-day walk out after an 11-month negotiation over a pay deal broke down.

UNITE spokesman Tony Brady said: “This action is because of the rejection of the 2010 pay deal, they have offered 1.5 per cent.

“They tried to change it to a two-year pay deal in January but that was unacceptable to us. We have told them we are still open to negotiation.”

More action is planned for April 27 and May 4 after a meeting with dispute resolution service ACAS did not result in a deal.

The firm has its main site in Corwen and employs more than 60 people at Deeside.

Worker Rob Smith said conditions such as compulsory overtime and less pay and holidays than the Corwen site was also behind the action.

He said: “We believe it should not have come to this. We are disappointed there has not been a settlement. This is the last resort, nobody wants to be striking.”

Mr Brady said staff had not been given a pay rise since 2007 and were losing income as lucrative shift work is cut back.

He said: “The company has been forcing changes on the staff. They are not asking for the world. Some of the staff have been here for five or seven years since the factory opened. They are a loyal and flexible workforce.”

Mr Brady sad that once negotiations over last year’s pay were completed the focus would move on to the 2011 pay award which currently stands at no increase.

IWT produce horseboxes, livestock trailers and a wide range of commercial and domestic use trailers. The firm, Europe’s biggest trailer maker, has been trading for more than 50 years.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Trading conditions remain difficult with the leisure and construction products assembled at Deeside particularly affected.

“It is crucial that we remain competitive and ensure that decisions are taken which provide sustainability for the business and employees in the long term.

“The company’s current pay offer is a taxable lump sum of £318 and a 1.5 per cent increase on basic/shift pay from April 1, 2011. This offer will increase the hourly rate for all production operators affected to £9.10 an hour which is significantly above the average for Deeside.

“We have also committed to protect shift pay until February 28, 2012.

“We are surprised that compulsory overtime has been raised as we have not worked overtime since July 2010 and there are no plans to work overtime in the foreseeable future.

“IWT Deeside is a separate limited company and was set up with a voluntary agreement with the union. The pay structure was agreed by the union in order that Deeside could remain a competitive manufacturing base.

“While we respect the right to take action, we feel that the offer made which takes the current rate to £9.10 an hour is attractive and above the average for the Deeside area.”

See full story in the Leader

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