Strike plan at Sheffield Forgemasters

Giant red hot casting at Forgemasters
Giant red hot casting at Forgemasters

Workers from Sheffield Forgemasters will take industrial action in a row over bonuses starting with an overtime ban on Monday and a 24-hour stoppage on Wednesday.

The dispute, involving 61 workers at the 800-strong company, comes after talks over merging bonuses into basic pay broke down.

The Unite union says younger workers’ pay barely exceeds the minimum wage but the bonus makes up 37 per cent of the total package.

The arrangement means they are losing out when being assessed for credit worthiness and borrowing.

The action involves hourly paid staff in the machine shops of Sheffield Forgemasters Limited.

Those who took part in a ballot voted 98.3 per cent in favour of a continuous overtime ban and 95.1 per cent in favour of discontinuous strike action.

Unite regional officer Doug Patterson said: “Sheffield Forgemasters has repeatedly failed to address our members’ reasonable demands for their bonuses to be consolidated into their pay.

“The unwillingness of the company leaves some of our members on an hourly rate of just over £7 when being assessed for credit and mortgages.

“Many of our highly skilled members are in a financially precarious position because of this arrangement. They are taking action to demand financial security. Forgemasters is a market leader in large scale forgings thanks to the contribution of these workers and they deserve to be treated fairly for their effort.”

Sheffield Forgemasters specialises in products used in the nuclear, oil and gas industries amongst others.

Graham Honeyman, chief executive, said the vote was scrutinised by the Electoral Reform Service on behalf of Unite. And it reported that 61 people had voted and of them 58 were in favour of strike action.

He added: “This action involves rejection of payment terms by 58 machine shop union members out of our 800 strong workforce.

“All other divisions within the company have universally accepted our offer.

The counter bid offer put back by the machine shop group would cost the company three quarters of a million pounds each year to implement across all employees.

We are working hard to even out the complex nature of our payment terms which is borne from the fact that this company is a historical conglomeration of several different companies, but at no point have the unions requested consolidation of payments purely in respect of credit scoring.

“We are open to working towards a solution and will be meeting with the unions to progress the matter.”

Mr Honeyman recently stated the firm would not be out of recession for another year.