Workers at Whirlpool’s Bristol tumble dryer factory have been forced to go on strike over poverty pay even though it will cause them hardship over the Christmas period.
Pay is so low at the factory that some workers have to visit food banks in order to feed themselves and their families.
The workers are asking for a pay increase of £1.25 to £10 an hour. Unite has suggested that the increase in pay could be offset by a reduction in the pay that workers receive during the factory’s shutdown periods.
After Whirlpool offered a miserly 1.25 per cent increase – equivalent to a 13p an hour rise – more than 90 Unite members were balloted for strike action with an overwhelming majority (80 per cent) voting in favour.
As a result, two 24 hour strikes have been scheduled for 12 December and 6 January.
Membership of the union has tripled in recent years as pay has worsened and increasing numbers of staff are finding themselves in financial difficulties.
The workers are also demanding that agency staff who have worked full time at the factory for a number of years are offered permanent contracts with Whirlpool.
Unite regional officer Ken Fish said: “This strike will add extra strain to workers already facing the financial pressures that Christmas brings. Despite this the workforce are determined to take a stand until they receive a fair wage.
“Too many staff at the Whirlpool factory are struggling to make ends meet.
“The company should be ashamed that some of its workforce are being forced to resort to food banks to survive. Whirlpool is in danger of becoming known as Bristol’s equivalent of Scrooge.
“As well as paying poverty wages, Whirlpool also refuses to directly employ long serving agency staff – one of our members has been working full time at the factory for six years, yet still hasn’t been offered a permanent job.
“Whirlpool needs to treat its staff with common human decency, which means paying them a wage they can live on and giving agency staff who have worked at the factory for years proper contracts.”