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Sunday, 29 March 2015

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Pay offer is realistic, claim Cumbrian chemical plant bosses

Bosses at a chemical plant say a pay offer tabled for workers is realistic if the site is to continue competing worldwide.

Eastman Chemicals photo
Eastman factory

Related: Chemical plant workers balloted over industrial action

Unrest among staff of Eastman Chemicals in Workington is growing as the GMB union bids for industrial action.

The News & Star reported on Thursday that union members at the Siddick plant rejected an original offer of 2.8 per cent in a secret ballot. Eastman raised that offer to 3 per cent but the union said it was still not enough.

The result of the ballot for industrial action is expected next Friday and if it comes back in favour, a strike could take place as early as seven days later.

The GMB union says asking its members to take a “pay cut” in times of austerity is “nothing less than corporate greed”.

Regional organiser Kevin Young said the union had put forward its plan to the company, which included an “inflationary pay rise.” He said they were looking for a rise in line with the Retail Price Index, which currently stands at 3.3 per cent.

However, the company said it felt the current offer of three per cent was “very reasonable” considering the current economic climate.

The statement, issued by Eastman, said: “Eastman has been in negotiations with the GMB union for the pay of its Workington site employees since January.

“Eastman has offered a pay increase of 3 per cent on base and shift rates, which is higher than the local average of 2.7 per cent. However, GMB is conducting a ballot to determine the next steps in negotiations which could include a strike.

“If the site employees move forward with a strike, Eastman will implement its contingency plans.”

Mr Young said that there was no meetings scheduled between the union and Eastman between now and Friday, to try and reach an agreement.

“It’s a gamble for both parties but we are canvassing our members for a yes vote,” he added.

Eastman Chemicals, which employs about 160 people is a manufacturer of Acetate Tow which is used to make cigarette filters.

GMB has 100 per cent membership.

If the ballot comes back in favour of industrial action, workers need to give seven days notice to the company and must carry out the strike within 28 days.


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