Unite blasts 'disgraceful Kingspan strike-breaking' as industrial action escalates

Striking workers outside the Kingspan site at Gilford Road in Portadown
Gary McDonald Business Editor

STRIKING workers at Kingspan in Portadown have escalated their actions, with the picket line now set to stand 24 hours a day.

Members of the Unite union at the plant, which employs 200 staff making fuel and water tanks, walked out on Monday after rejecting a final pay offer from management, understood to be 8.5 per cent.

The union says that, since the action begun, bosses have been bringing delivery and distribution lorries after dark to avoid the strike action, prompting the move to a 24/7 picket to “defeat company greed”.

Unite claims that workers from Kingspan sites in Williton in Somerset, and Rokietnica in Poland, have been flown over in an attempt to continue production onsite.

And in what they have lambasted as “a further shocking development”, Unite says it understands that while the English staff have been put up at the four-star Seagoe Hotel, the Polish workers are staying at a hostel in Portadown.

Management at Kingspan have as yet not responded to an Irish News request for a response.



Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Kingspan’s disgraceful efforts to deny Portadown workers a far wage will not succeed.

“This is another appalling case of greed by a business that can well afford to pay this workforce fairly. Unite is determined to do everything in its power support our members until they do exactly that.”

The union’s members are holding solidarity signage in Polish seeking to appeal to the strike-breakers – some of whom are understood not to have been told about the ongoing industrial dispute.

Unite’s regional officer for the workforce is Neil Moore added: “Many of the striking workforce at Kingspan in Portadown come from Eastern Europe, including Poland.

“There are signs written in Polish as well as a Polish language video appeal to the strike-breakers to explain the dispute and to ask them to respect the Portadown workers’ picket lines.”

Last year Kingspan increased revenues by 28 per cent to £7.3 billion and increases its trading profit by 10 per cent to £733 million, rewarding its shareholders with a dividend of £2.89 on every share – a jump of over 8 per cent on 2021.