Glasgow coffin manufacturers to walk out again in pay dispute

The factory is one of the only manufacturing sites in the UK.

Glasgow coffin manufacturers to walk out again in pay dispute iStock

Coffin manufacturers in Glasgow have begun a week of strike action amid a long-running dispute over pay.

Around 50 craft workers based at Co-op Funeralcare in Govan will walk out from Monday after a fresh offer by the company was rejected.

The firm offered a rise of 4% for this year, as well as a 5% rise for 2023.

However, Unite the union turned down the offer, with inflation set to further soar.

The Glasgow site is one of the UK’s only manufacturers of coffins, and the only one in Scotland.

December’s walk-out represents the third month in a row that strike action has taken place, with Unite warning that further action could be taken.

Almost 60,000 people are employed by Co-op across the UK.

The company has indicated that its base pay and production bonus for roles within the factory remain “highly competitive” against the external market.

It has also stated its aim to resolve the dispute and to reach a recommended deal.

Earlier this year, 500 roles across the company were cut due to the financial challenges facing the business.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham insisted that members will have the full backing of the union during the pay dispute.

“The Co-Op seem to be revelling in playing the role of Scrooge this Christmas,” she said.

“Unite’s members deserve a fair pay award yet they have been made an offer which falls three time behind the current cost of living.

“This is totally unacceptable and our members will have their union’s full backing in this fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Willie Thomson, Unite industrial officer, warned the company that it risks damaging its reputation.

He said: “Bosses at the Co-op Funeralcare and Co-op UK have quite frankly dumped their cooperative values in the bin.

“They have chosen to sub-contract and pay third party suppliers in preference to their workers who are rightly seeking a fair wage settlement.

“As well as ignoring their workers they are also ignoring the voices of politicians after the Co-op was named and shamed at both Holyrood and Westminster parliaments.

“The Co-op risks significant reputation damaged and disruption to its supply of coffins by deliberately taking the decision to escalate this dispute.”

Co-op Funeralcare said in a statement it had made “significant increases” for staff.

It also expressed its disappointment in the latest pay offer having been rejected by Unite.

“We recognise the valuable contribution that our coffin factory workers make tour Co-op. In spite of ongoing strike action, we would like to offer reassurance our coffin supply remains strong,” the company stated.

“We recognise that the rising cost of living is impacting our colleagues and we have ensured that the combined base pay and production bonus for roles within the coffin factory remain extremely competitive.

“As a major national employer that is facing into high inflation and increased costs, we have worked hard to balance the requests from our employees at the coffin factory with our wider colleague population.

“At a time where we have had to make some tough decisions in terms of reducing roles across our business, we have made a significant increases for colleagues.

“We are disappointed that this has been rejected by Unite, who chose not to take the offer to their members for ballot and we remain open to further discussions with them and their members in seeking to reach an agreement on pay.”

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