Factory workers threaten strike action in bitter pay dispute
PUBLISHED: 16:53 20 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:55 20 August 2019
Workers at Dulux paint producer AkzoNobel in Stowmarket are gearing up for strike action over pay.
Bosses at the Dutch-owned paint factory, which was once part of ICI Paints, have written to staff threatening to withdraw a 2.25% pay offer according to the Unite union.
AkzoNobel is a multi-national producer of paints and coatings with its headquarters in Amsterdam. The Suffolk factory produces Dulux paint and Cuprinol.
Unite said its members had rejected the current pay offer by a 98% majority.
The union claim bosses are now threatening to withdraw the deal and withhold the backdated pay if workers do not back down before September 6.
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Unite regional officer Neal Evans said: "The management seems hell-bent on ratcheting up bad feeling in this dispute by sending this intemperate letter to our members who don't take well to threats.
"We are in the middle of a legitimate ballot for strike action over a paltry pay offer that the workers have already overwhelmingly rejected in a consultative ballot and it is unhelpful in the extreme to threaten to withdraw the uplift in the pay offer from April 1 this year.
"The management's hardline attitude has been compounded by the additional threat to make the settlement available to non-union members only."
A spokesman for AkzoNobel said: "As a responsible employer with good and active engagement with our colleagues and their union representatives, and in a time of economic uncertainty, we firmly believe we made a strong and reasonable offer which balances our need to be a sustainable business with a fair settlement for our colleagues.
"We recognise that we have been involved in extensive negotiations with Unite since March and in discussions we have already compromised significantly. We remain committed to maintaining the strong relationship we have with our colleagues at Stowmarket and are proud to have several generations of families working at the site and an extremely low staff turnover. We very much hope that our colleagues and their union representatives will reflect on the offer made and accept it."