Pay deal averts strike action at GSK’s UK sites

by Stephen Riddle

Industrial action at several GlaxoSmithKline manufacturing plants in the UK has been called off, after an improved pay deal was accepted by the Unite union.

Unite said last month it was calling for strike by GSK workers for the first time in the company’s history, saying a “derisory 2.75% pay increase was in fact a pay cut in real terms given the rising rate of inflation in the UK, currently at around 9%.

The threat of action by engineers, technicians, laboratory analysts, warehouse workers, firefighters and labourers has now resulted in a 10.5% offer, which has been accepted, said the union.

The six plants affected by the ballot were Montrose and Irvine in Scotland, Ware in Hertfordshire, Worthing in West Sussex, Barnard Castle in Durham, and Ulverston in Cumbria.

“By voting for strike action, standing together, with their union firmly on their side, our members and reps have secured a greatly improved pay increase at GSK,” said Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham.

“This is further proof that Unite’s commitment to prioritising jobs, pay and conditions is delivering significant benefits for members.”

A GSK spokesperson told pharmaphorum that the company is “pleased to have reached an agreement with our employees covered by collective bargaining agreements at UK manufacturing sites.”

“We are committed to maintaining positive relationships with our skilled manufacturing workforce and the unions that represent them,” she added.

According to the company, the accepted offer is a 4.5% increase to base salary and associated allowances, which is backdated. This is in addition to a one-off special award to all GSK employees of one week’s pay – equivalent to around 2% of base salary.

GSK previously said its UK pharma manufacturing employees number around 3,500 and of these around 700 are Unite members, of whom around 435 voted for strike action. Around 175 GMB union members did not return a vote for strike action.

The new pay agreement applies only to roles covered by collective bargaining agreements, applying to around 1,350 workers, according to the drugmaker.

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