An overwhelming nine out of 10 Unite members working at GKN Aerospace Services Ltd near Bristol, have voted for strike action beginning next week (May 22) in a protest over pay.
Hard-working skilled staff, who produce aeroplane wings, have not received a pay increase for the past two years. This is despite managers at the company pocketing increases and bonuses, and workers from other parts of the Aerospace group receiving a one per cent pay increase in 2016 and a three per cent in 2017.
“GKN has continued to blame technical and operational management failures for the decision not to offer workers a pay increase,” commented Unite deputy regional secretary Steve Preddy.
“At the same time it has hypocritically given bonuses and rewards to managers,” he added.
GKN has a rich heritage. A leading tier one supplier, they provide aero structures, engine products and electrical wiring systems to the global aerospace industry. The multinational boast 55 plants across 14 countries, employing nearly 18,000 workers. Always looking to expand it has a presence in the Americas, Asia and Europe.
Last year this giant generated £3,423m in sales. But despite this it would appear that workers in the Bristol area have not been recognized for their contribution to the firm’s success.
To meet the targets and demands of customers, the company is dependent on these underappreciated workers to work overtime – a point made by Preddy.
“Workers have demonstrated their flexibility and hard work in seeking to assure that the factory is a success and in return the company has slapped them in the face by failing to instigate a pay rise”.
Although Bristol has a good range of employment opportunities, highly skilled jobs are thin on the ground. Aerospace workers are part of an occupational group that comprises just 7.2 per cent of the overall job possibilities in the South West. So, if these jobs are lost those workers affected could face a struggle to find reemployment in the same field-and these crucial skills could be lost to the region .
GKN Aerospace’s Avonmouth workers are not alone in their concerns. The futures of 230 workers was put in doubt when in 2016 it announced plans to close a branch in Yeovil, Somerset by the end of 2017, after helicopter firm Leonardo cancelled a contract.
GKN also delivered what was described by Unite as a ‘body blow’ (Add Link) to the local community, resulting in 230 job losses at the car parts plant in Telford after a contract ended with Jaguar Land Rover.
In the event of GKN not producing an acceptable pay offer it is hoped Unite’s looming indefinite overtime ban (beginning May 25) is likely to force them to rectify the situation.
Unite hopes that a fair offer can be made before the start of their indefinite overtime ban begins next Thursday (May 25.)
Steve Preddy concludes, “GKN can easily resolve this dispute by making a fair pay offer for 2016 and 2017. What members are seeking is affordable and there is no reason why they should be treated differently from other workers”.