Workers at a leading crane manufacturer in Sunderland will be striking for two days next month in a dispute over an ‘inadequate’ pay offer.
The 28 skilled crane assemblers at Liebherr Sunderland Works will strike from 19:59 on Thursday 9 August until 23:59 on Friday 10 August.
The action will be repeated on 16/17 August and the workers have already started an overtime ban.
Unite, the country’s largest union, will be coordinating the industrial action with the GMB union which also has members at the Deptford Terrace site.
On its website, the global Liebherr Group boasts the highest turnover in the group’s history which stretches back to 1949 – a total of €9,845 million (almost €10 billion).
Unite’s members voted by 79 per cent for strike action after rejecting the company’s offer of three per cent, a £150 lump sum and an extra day off over the Christmas period for the year starting January 2018.
Unite regional officer Mark Sanderson said:
“While the company’s offer may appear reasonable, it has to be seen in context of past pay deals.
“In recent years, our members have accepted below inflation pay awards as the management said that business was not so good, but that when things picked up, there would be higher pay rises.
“Our very experienced members, who have contributed to the highest turnover in the Liebherr Group’s history, now want the firm to come good on its past promises and offer a generous pay rise to make up for the years of below inflation increases.
“Our members take great pride in the high quality cranes they assemble for the oil and maritime industries, but feel that ‘enough is enough’ and that the current offer is inadequate.
“Unite’s door is open 24/7 for genuine pay talks with the management before next month’s strike action.”
However, the Managing Director of Liebherr has denied claims that the offer is not enough.
According to a statement of pay reviews dating back to 2014, the current offer from the company is the highest yet.
A statement from the company says:
“We fully acknowledge and respect the recognised unions GMB and Unite the Union as legitimate representation of the bargain unit and welcome the in general positive and fruitful cooperation.”
“Our offer is fair and adequate and has been put forward in full recognition of the efforts and commitment of our employees and despite the difficult business conditions in a very competitive market for our maritime crane products.
“Furthermore the offer is well above average pay-reviews in the region and nationwide (average 2.5% over last 3 months (EEF data)) as well as the CPI inflation rate.
“The offer is in line with the pay review at our sister company in the UK.
“Staff members outside the bargain unit have accepted our offer in an independent ballot because it is seen as fair and adequate.”