Workers at drugs giant to stage series of strikes throughout May

Unite the Union has accused pharmaceutical firm GSK of 'sticking two fingers up to its workforce'.

Hundreds of UK workers employed by a pharmaceutical giant will stage a series of walkouts throughout May after accusing the corporation of “putting up two fingers up to its workforce”.

Some 750 workers at GSK will take strike action this month action after rejecting the company’s offer of a 6% pay rise with a £1,300 lump sum.

GSK said the overall package to its employees represents the equivalent of a 9% pay rise but Unite, which represents the workers taking industrial action, said it would force staff to accept a real-terms pay cut as the RPI rate of inflation stands at 13.5%.

The strikes will take place at different times throughout the month at six sites, including Barnard Castle, Irvine, Montrose, Ware, Worthing and Ulverston.

Those impacted by the strike action include engineers, process technicians, laboratory analysts, warehouse workers and fire officers. 

Unite say the offer by GSK is below the rate of inflation.iStock

Bob MacGregor, Unite industrial officer, said: “The GSK strike action will begin in Montrose and then spread throughout the UK. It will inevitably result in widespread disruption at the Montrose plant.

“Yet GSK have deliberately chosen to escalate the dispute by walking away from negotiations.”

Unite said the company’s latest £8.15bn in recorded profits represent a 26% increase on the year before, showing they can afford to pay their workers more.

Unite national officer Tony Devlin said: “Strike action will inevitably result in widespread disruption across GSK’s operations, but the company has brought this dispute on itself.

“It has had every opportunity to make a pay offer which meets member expectations, but it has failed to do so.

“GSK has effectively stuck two fingers up to its workforce by walking away from the pay negotiations.”

A GSK spokesperson said: “We recognise that for many of our people, this past year has seen their cost of living rise rapidly and believe the offer we have made to our UK manufacturing colleagues covered by collective bargaining agreements is fair and reasonable.

“We are therefore disappointed that the Unite union has decided to take industrial action, despite receiving a final offer which includes a 6% increase on base pay, shift pay and allowances, plus a discretionary one-time payment of £1,300 – an overall package equivalent to a 9.7% increase.”

Dates of industrial action

Montrose: May 2 until May 4.

Irvine: May 4, 5, 16, 17 and 30.

Ware: May 9 until 11.

Barnard Castle: May 10 until 12.

Worthing: May 15, 16, 19 and 20.

Ulverston: May 24 until 26.

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