Lock-making staff near Wolverhampton to strike in pay dispute

Union workers at the historic lock makers Henry Squire and Sons in Featherstone, near Wolverhampton, will begin strike action next month in a dispute over pay.

Unite said that its members were due to receive a pay increase in January but management refused to make an offer.

Instead they have offered a 2.5 per cent increase for the period from July to December, which the union says is in real terms worth just 1.25 per cent for the entire year.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “Workers at Henry Squire are long due a decent pay rise. The current July to December offer for 2021 is a pay cut in real terms. Understandably that has not been accepted by union members.

"It’s simple - Henry Squire can avoid industrial action by Unite members. How? By making a decent wages offer.”

Squire employs a team of 45 people at its manufacturing headquarters of which 19 are members of Unite.

The company issued a statement saying: "As a family-owned, independent manufacturer since 1780, we’re proud that for many years we’ve rewarded our team with annual pay increases and bonuses.

"In June, we made a final offer for pay awards to Unite members of our team of a 2.5 per cent increase on company pay rates from July 1 and a further 2.5 per cent increase on company pay rates from January 1, 2022.

"We can confirm that following a consultative ballot with Unite members at Squire, this offer has been rejected."

Operations director Glyn Green said: “We are very disappointed in this outcome, particularly after one of the most difficult trading periods in our company’s history. This remains our best and final offer and we look forward to an agreement on pay awards very soon.”

The first week-long strike action will begin on Monday, October 4 and there are similar week-long periods of industrial action scheduled to begin on October 25, November 15 and December 6.

The company at Hilton Cross Business Park makes padlocks and other locking mechanisms which are distributed by Screwfix and other suppliers.

The union says that the strikes will bring production to a halt and shortages of the company’s products will quickly follow.

It says that the workforce at Henry Squire is typically paid around £9.50 an hour.

Unite claims industrial relations at the family-run business are at an all-time low due to the management’s attitude to workers and a poorly handled redundancy programme earlier this year.

Unite regional officer Su Lowe said: ”Our members at Henry Squire are totally fed up with the high handed and unfair demands of management.

“They feel that they are working harder than ever and that management’s below inflation pay offer is treating them with contempt."

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