For the first time in the history of pharmaceutical giant GSK, UK workers have voted for industrial action in a dispute over pay.
The workers, members of Unite the union, recorded an 86 per cent yes vote in favour of strike action in response to GSK making a derisory pay offer of just 2.75 per cent, a substantial real terms pay cut for the workforce, with the true rate of inflation (RPI) currently standing at nine per cent.
Unite says that GSK now has a short 48 hour-window of opportunity to make a much-improved offer or strike action will be announced.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Never before have our members at GSK voted for strike action – their anger is a clear response to the company’s colossal corporate greed.
“GSK pocketed more than £34 billion in profits last year yet expects its workforce to swallow a pay cut in the midst of a cost of living crisis. As the strength of our members’ vote shows, this is simply not acceptable – I’m backing Unite members and their demand that GSK thinks again.
“Unite members have their union’s total support in their pursuit of a fair deal.”
In 2021, GSK, which produces household medicines like Sensodyne and Panadol along with medications for combatting critical illnesses, made £34.1 billion in profits. The company’s chief executive Emma Walmsley saw her pay increase by 17 per cent last year, receiving £8.2 million.
Unite national officer Tony Devlin added, “Our members at GSK have delivered a huge mandate in favour of strike action. Even at this late stage Unite has offered GSK a small window in which to make an improved offer and to avoid the inevitable disruption to production that will occur if strike action takes place.”
By Barckley Sumner