Billionaire Warren Buffett linked to Leicester SPS dispute

Leicester SPS workforce ‘treated disgracefully’ as they fight ‘brutal’ fire and rehire cuts

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Warren Buffett, whose net worth surpassed £73 billion this month, is linked to Leicester SPS Technologies’ workers on strike over ‘brutal’ fire and rehire cuts, Unite said today (March 25).

Around 200 Unite members at SPS’s Barkby Road site are on strike over fire and rehire proposals that would result in reductions to overtime pay, sick pay, paid breaks and shift premiums amounting to annual wage losses of up to £3,000.

The company is owned by American billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway – a multinational conglomerate – and produces aerospace parts for companies such as Airbus, Boeing, GE and Rolls-Royce.

The Barkby Road workers began discontinuous strike action on March 12, but will now strike daily from the March 29 until June 3, effectively bringing the factory’s operations to a halt.

Unite has also launched a tribunal claim against SPS after the company refused to provide a length-of-service based redundancy payment that the union contends around 60 staff, who lost their jobs last year, are contractually entitled to.

Seven MPs have also signed an early day motion submitted yesterday (March 24) calling on SPS ‘to take the shameful threat of “fire and rehire” off the table and start negotiating with Unite’.

Unite regional officer Lakhy Mahal said, “SPS’s Barkby Road managing director Jitesh Randeria has treated his workforce disgracefully. These brutal fire and rehire cuts would see many of his staff living on the breadline. The company is also refusing to pay length-of-service based redundancy payments to workers who lost their jobs last year, a matter Unite is pursuing through employment tribunal.

“Mr Randeria will have to explain to his higher ups in Berkshire Hathaway why the conglomerate’s name, as well as Mr Buffett’s, is now being linked to unseemly attempts at using the pandemic as a cover to launch attacks on workers’ pay,” Mahal added.

“Warren Buffet’s personal wealth exceeds £100 billion, Berkshire Hathaway sits on more than four times that – what justification is there to punch down on loyal workers who will be forced into taking payday loans or second jobs by these cuts? Our members know there is none, which is why the strikes will continue until Mr Randeria returns to the negotiating table with an offer they can accept.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “Fire and rehire’ is ripping through our workplaces like a disease. Weak law lets bad bosses force through brutal changes to contracts, sometimes taking thousands of pounds off wages that families need to get by.

“It’s a disgraceful practice that’s outlawed in much of Europe and should be here,” he added. “Unite is fighting for UK workers to be treated with the same decency. We won’t stop until the law is changed to protect working people from attack.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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