Workers at Sierra Windows in Paignton, Devon started a 48-hour strike today (April 26) in a dispute over pay and an imposed change to shift patterns.
Unite called on the ‘secretive’ management to come clean on the company’s finances and negotiate in a constructive fashion, as the 150-strong workforce has not had a pay rise since 2015.
The workers began their 48-hour strike from 6am this morning and the two-day stoppages will be repeated on May 3, May 10, May 17 and May 24.
The workers rejected a pay deal for the year April 2016 –April 2017 of 1.5 per cent, but would have only been payable from May 2017. They are also angry that shifts have been changed unilaterally from five days of seven hours to four days of 12 hours.
The union argues that the shift alteration is either not wanted by the staff because of the adverse impact on the work/life balance or because some will lose money under this new arrangement.
Unite regional coordinating officer Terry Keefe said, “Sierra Windows is a part of Specialist Building Products which is a profitable group. However, the local management claims that Sierra Windows is not profitable.
“But the management has declined to give Unite details of its finances to back up that claim and also for the business plan going forward. The local bosses are quite secretive which has not improved employment relations.
“Our members feel that the company doesn’t currently have enough work to productively fill 12 hour shifts and believe that productivity will be poor towards the end of a very long shift, heightening the risk of an accident due to tiredness.” he added. “No risk assessment by the company has been produced.
“The company fails to realise that the workers who currently work regular overtime will be worse off and those who don’t do overtime, because of work/life balance issues, will now be forced to work many extra hours each week.
“The management needs to sit down and talk to us about a decent pay offer for 2016 and also about changes to the new shift system that was imposed unilaterally.”
The company’s website says: “At Sierra Windows, we’ve been creating bespoke frames from our factory in Devon since 1976.”
Unite members make up the majority of the workers at the firm and voted by 56 per cent for strike action.
Unite also warned that industrial problems are simmering at a sister company DB Glass at Newton Abbot where a similar pay offer is on the table.