The supply chains of Ford, Peugeot and JLR could be hit in a dispute over low pay at Darcast Crankshafts Ltd in Birmingham said today (January 27).
The entire shop floor workforce at the factory, which produces crankshafts for major automakers and made profits of more than £2 million in 2018/19, will be balloted for strike action this week over low pay.
Unite, which has more than 70 members at the factory, said workers ‘are at the end of their tether’ at being paid a basic rate of £6.16 an hour that is topped up to the legal minimum through the use of shift allowances and so called ‘bonuses’.
Despite staff on occasion having to work up to 70 hour weeks in arduous conditions at the factory’s metal foundry to get by, Darcast has refused the workers’ request to increase their basic hourly rate to the national minimum wage (NMW) of £8.21.
Unite slammed Darcast’s use of ‘bogus bonuses’ to give the impression it is possible for staff to earn a reasonable living on their current pay scheme.
The union also criticised a threat by Darcast owner Leonard Bransby to close the factory permanently if the workers do not back down.
Unite regional officer Melvyn Palmer said: “Our members are at the end of their tether – they work in heavy industry and are being paid poverty wages. Their work/life balance is being severely affected with many having to work 60 or 70 hour weeks in gruelling conditions just to get by.
“Darcast’s bogus bonuses are simply an underhand way of keeping staff working long hours and ensuring the firm complies with the NMW. Our members are dead set on righting this wrong and gaining a fair pay rise and are unconcerned about Leonard Bransby’s preposterous threat to close the entire operation if they don’t give in.
“Ford, Peugeot and JLR will not be pleased to hear of a potential disruption to their supply chains because Darcast is paying poverty wages. Darcast know how hard the employees’ jobs are and it is time the company stopped treating workers with such disdain and disrespect. Unite’s door is always open and we urge Darcast to table a pay increase and put an end to this dispute.”