Hyster-Yale is latest firm planning strike action over pay

Hyster-Yale's new Craigavon facility was opened last year in honour of its retired managing director Harry Sands
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE feared "summer of discontent" in workplace relations across the north was further cranked up yesterday when it emerged the workforce at Craigavon forklift giant Hyster-Yale have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.

Members of Unite the union have voted with a 85.3 per cent majority to take strike action in what they say is a battle to win living costs pay.

The workers have rejected a below-inflation pay offer of 5.5 per cent, and a strike by the 300-plus bargaining unit, which includes engineering and office staff, will shut the site, according to Unite.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham offered her support to the workforce saying: “This is an overwhelming vote by the workforce at Hyster-Yale and a resounding rejection of a pay offer that does little to protect workers who are facing surging inflation.

“Unite members across the economy are organising to defend themselves and their households from the cost of living crisis. Our members at Hyster-Yale have the full support of the union in their fight to secure a genuine pay increase.”

US-owned Hyster's Craigavon facility, which opened in 1981, is built and equipped with the most up-to-date robot systems and equipment.

Last year the company said it was creating dozens of jobs at its 40-acre site in Carn following a £5 million expansion of its facility, which included opening its new 60,000 sq Sands Building in honour of Harry Sands, who retired as senior VP and managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Asia after 40 years with the firm.

Hyster-Yale in Craigavon, which employs more than 400 people, manufactures thousands of forklifts each year for export throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

At a corporate level, its parent company had revenues of $3.1 billion (£2.45bn) in 2021, but had a net loss of $173.0 million (£137m) and at year-end was carrying debt of $518.5 million (£410m).

Deputy regional secretary for the Unite union in Ireland, Davy Thompson, commended the strength of the ballot result.

He said: “The strength of this ballot confirms that workers at Hyster-Yale stand ready to take strike action which will shut down production on Hyster-Yale's Craigavon site.

“The ball is now squarely in the court of management – they need to return to the table with a pay increase offer that reflects the cost of living pressures our members are experiencing.

“In the absence of such a move, Unite will be left with no alternative but to notify Hyster-Yale of a commencement date for strike action.”

Management at Hyster-Yale were contacted for a comment but did not respond.

The planned strike action comes as unions at a number of companies across Northern Ireland have been seeking members' views over recent weeks on proposed industrial action over pay demands.

But just last week it emerged that a Translink bus strike, twice planned then postponed, will no longer go ahead after members accepted a revised pay offer.

Unions said Translink management offered a new pay offer at the eleventh hour which bus drivers, cleaners and shunters accepted.

A Translink spokesman said: “We are pleased that members of the Unite and GMB bus driver trade unions have accepted the revised pay offer, which acknowledges our drivers' concerns over increasing inflation and the cost of living, while also supporting wider business needs.”

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