Corrugated workers to vote on strike action over 2.15% pay offer

Corrugated’s big three are facing the possibility of strike action after union members voted to reject a pay offer.

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Unite said that its 2,500 members in the corrugated industry’s big three – DS Smith, SAICA and Smurfit Kappa – had voted to reject a 2.15% pay offer from the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) and would now hold a ballot on industrial action.

But the CPI argued that the pay offer was fair given the uncertain economic outlook and the continued difficulties that its members face with rising energy and raw materials costs.

Unite members voted nine to one to reject the pay offer. They will now vote on whether to go on strike but any action is thought unlikely to take place before January.

CPI director general David Workman said: “With the exception of this year, the corrugated industry has had a pretty torrid time recently but there have been annual pay increases.

“There are a number of things on the horizon that are of concern. Pulp and paper prices and energy costs are rising and there is uncertainty about the economic outlook.

“We are disappointed that the first ballot has gone against a settlement and we hope that when it comes to this further ballot on strike action, employees will take a step back and think hard about whether it is the best way forward.”

The threat of strike action could put pressure on a partnership approach that has characterised recent relations between Unite and the CPI that has led to progress in areas such as health and safety. Workman said that he hoped the current dispute would not damage that relationship in the long term.

Unite national officer Peter Ellis said that the union may have settled on a “modest improvement” to the CPI’s offer at talks in early October.

“But the CPI insisted that a pay settlement at less than half the RPI was as far as it was prepared to go,” he said.

“The aim is for a far higher settlement than could have been achieved by a continuation of the partnership approach, that has set us in such good stead over recent years.”

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Comments

10 comments

  1. SKG and DSS have made loads of profit through hiking up the price of paper. Combine that with more box price rises to come, they should pay us workers, who have returned them to profit, a decent wage. I say strike now before Xmas, why wait until January when we all know the industry is quiet.

  2. Sure, 2.15% isn’t great but how many people are losing their jobs at the moment and how many are on pay freezes? Surely the union and staff should take what it can get before this becomes a major dispute…
    Strikes won’t help anyone apart from the overseas packaging companies who’ll be all too happy to pick up the slack.

  3. This is a hard balance to find,
    Firstly we have the current climate where any pay deal is looked at as fortunate when loads of industries are on short time and losing jobs,
    Then we have a VAT increase looming that will eat up the majority of the increase offered, this will put the union members basically on par with where they are currently but working in an industry making a profit.
    I do not envy anyone sitting in on these meetings and finding common ground.

  4. I thought we already worked for overseas companies?

  5. The problem is Peter Ellis is leading a one man crusade to drive up union due’s. He has no concept that input costs have gone up 70% and box prices / margins are falling. A strike will only benefit the union with more people joining so their not out on a limb, I’d have more respect for the union leaders if they also went without pay while the members we’re on strike instead of using it as a option to further their own career and gain that nice fully paid for house in London.

  6. Striking in January will be music to the “big 3′s” ears. Not paying the workers for a week when we have no work will suit them down to the ground. The threat of a strike in December will however stimulate them in to action. Its time they realised how the profits have been generated, and pay a cost of living increase. With VAT going up in the new year and inflation now at 3.2%, its time for action now!

  7. First of all a strike will get you nowhere. The price of all consumables has rocketed over the last 12 months, this combined with another forecasted dip in the economy will affect our industry. The guys at certain sheet feeder would gratefully accept a job never mind an increase of over 2%.
    Accept the offer and ride out the storm, next year will not be pleasant for any of us.

  8. Even in the group makes money overall there is a real danger that individual plant actually lose money. The 3% could just be the difference between keeping a plan open and closing it. UK corrugated plants are notorious for losing money, I hope Unite know what they are doing, putting further pressure on the plants that are borderline will possibly led to closures more members out of jobs, and a chance for some of the big 3 to take out some over capacity. A very dangerous game!

  9. I cannot believe the union reccomended rejection of this offer whilst others are having pay freeze imposed on them or loosing there jobs. We have just told a temp worker that he will not be kept on after xmas. 60 percent of the workers did not vote on this offer so why would they vote for strike action.

  10. The rich get richer and the worker gets shafted do i need to say more.strike strike strike they will lose lots of cash if the machines are down,A lot more than it would cost them with a small increase.

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