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Steel workers at Willenhall firm striking over low pay

Members of union Unite at a Willenhall steel factory are staging a series of strikes over low pay.

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The massive ArcelorMittal Steel Processing Centre in Strawberry Lane, Willenhall

ArcelorMittal Distribution Solutions at Strawberry Lane makes products for the automotive and construction industries.

The workers earn an average of £11.24 per hour, with some receiving just the national minimum wage. They have rejected a pay rise of seven per cent.

The union claims this is a real terms pay cut when UK retail price index inflation stood at 11.4 per cent when the rise was due to be implemented in April.

The union says that ArcelorMittal Distribution Solutions, part of the world's biggest steel maker Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, had a turnover of £267.5 million and operating profits of £33.1m in 2021.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Putting forward a reasonable pay offer wouldn’t put a dent in ArcelorMittal’s bottom line. The company can afford to give our members a fair pay deal and that is what needs to happen. ArcelorMittal’s Willenhall workforce have Unite’s total backing as they fight against this blatant corporate greed.”

The workers have already taken four days of strike action including Tuesday, September 26 and have further strike days lined up on October 5, 6, 9 and 10.

Unite warns that strike action will intensify if the dispute is not resolved.

ArcelorMittal’s Willenhall factory produces steel coil, strips and blanks that are used by many big companies.

Unite regional officer Nathan Allen added: “Our members resolve is rock solid. ArcelorMittal needs to return to negotiations and put forward an acceptable offer or this dispute will continue to escalate.”

An ArcelorMittal spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that we were not able to reach an agreement with employee representatives – we firmly believe the offer made to employees is a fair one. In the interest of our customers, we have a mitigation plan in place, in order to minimise the impact of the strikes on our operations.”