GSK strike action escalates in pay dispute

Workers angry over CEO’s telephone number salary

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Members of Unite employed by pharmaceutical giant GSK are set to escalate their strike action in a dispute over pay.

The 750 workers – who undertake a wide variety of roles including engineers, process technicians, laboratory analysts, warehouse workers and fire officers – have rejected a significantly below inflation offer of six per cent and a one off lump sum of £1,300. This is a substantially below the real inflation rate, RPI, of 11.4 per cent.

The pay offer is in stark contrast to the huge salary of GSK’s chief executive Emma Walmsley, who received £8.4 million last year. It has been estimated that she only has to work a single day to receive the same pay that the employees striking receive for the entire year.

GSK is an incredibly wealthy company. It’s latest financial results reveal it made an operating profit of £8.15 billion, a 26 per cent increase on the previous year.

The cost of resolving Unite’s pay claim would be just 0.05 per cent of the company’s profits. GSK has said they can afford the workers’ pay claim but have decided to use the money in other areas.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This is a clear example of corporate greed on a grand scale. The company is hugely profitable, the chief executive is paid in millions and yet they won’t give the workers a fair pay rise.

“Make no mistake, Unite will be giving its members at GSK its total support. The company’s attitude is indefensible.”

The strike action will involve workers at GSK’s plants at Barnard Castle, Irvine, Montrose, Ulverston, Ware and Worthing. The first strike this month will be at Ware on 9 June (full details of all the strikes in notes for editors). Further strikes will be announced in the coming days.

Unite members took initial strike action in the dispute last month.

Unite national officer Tony Devlin added, “Strikes have already depleted GSK’s stockpile of medicines and vaccines and fresh industrial action will create further shortages. However, this dispute is totally of GSK’s own making. The company has admitted it can make a fair pay offer but it has chosen not to.”

By Barckley Sumner