Caterpillar strike: Industrial action ends at Co Antrim plants

Caterpillar has said it is “looking forward to welcoming staff back to work” after an agreement was reached to end strike action at the firm’s facilities in Larne and Belfast.

The industrial action occurred after Unite the union members rejected a pay offer from the US manufacturing giant. The dispute saw employees walk out in April before further action commenced on May 3.

Yesterday (Monday), the company announced that staff would be returning to work after an offer was accepted.

In a statement issued to the Larne Times, a spokesperson for Caterpillar said: “We are pleased the union has cancelled its additional weeks of industrial action and look forward to welcoming everyone back to work.

Caterpillar Northern Ireland employees and Unite union members form a picket at the company's Belfast plant. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“We have received a strong and favourable response to the company’s direct offer and look forward to welcoming everyone back to work.

“Caterpillar has always been committed to achieving an agreement, via the collective bargaining process, which benefits our employees and customers while strengthening our long-term future.

“We believe the offer presented was a good and fair offer that recognizes cost of living concerns, while at the same time driving forward business competitiveness and agility within the workplace.

“Caterpillar negotiated in good faith with Unite to reach a fair and balanced final agreement which would include a 9 per cent wage increase effective April 1, 2022.”

Commenting on the development, a Unite spokesperson said: “Unite remains very actively engaged with our members at Caterpillar. We will always be guided and fully supportive of any decisions taken by our membership.”

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Outlining some of the accepted offer’s key points, the Caterpillar spokesperson explained: “The offer includes a cumulative 9 per cent base salary increase, with a 2.6 per cent retroactive lump sum for hours worked from April 1 2021 to April 1 2022, including overtime for this period, customer-driven overtime, which applies only to the Larne facility and includes 30+ days’ advanced notice, a limited number of hours per year and a significant per hour pay increase for additional time worked and business goals met, up to two days of holiday buyback and no separation of the bargaining unit, but future negotiations at the facilities can bargain separate pay, term and conditions which better align to the specific needs of each facility.”