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Workers at Interface Craigavon to begin strike this weekend

More than 100 workers at a Craigavon factory are to take part in industrial action after pay talks broke down.

Workers at Interface, based in the Silverwood Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Lurgan, are planning on a continuous ‘all out’ strike action starting on Sunday evening.

It is understood the firm, which makes carpet tiles and flooring, was informed of the proposed strike action last Friday.

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Yesterday (Monday) Unite offered to reopen engagement with the company via the Labour Relations Agency, the union said.

Interface factory in Silverwood Industrial Park, Craigavon, Co Armagh. Photo courtesy of Google.

The strike is due to start at 10.30pm on Sunday June 26 following a ballot of Unite’s more than 100 members which resulted in a majority of 87 percent for strike action on a 95 percent turnout.

What the union said

A spokesperson for the union said: “Unite’s membership represents almost all full-time contracted production workers onsite – the strike is therefore likely to have a substantial impact on the company’s operations.

“The industrial dispute arises after management rejected the workers’ pay claim for 11 percent (the current rate of retail price inflation) and instead offered a pay increase of 5.25 percent with an additional two percent to shift premiums for hourly employees working shifts. This offer was overwhelmingly rejected by workers as a substantial real-terms pay cut. In response, management have unilaterally imposed their pay offer on agency workers – ignoring entirely the collective bargaining process for those workers.”

Neil Moore, regional officer for Unite, said: “Management’s offer at Interface amounts to a real terms pay cut for these already low-paid workers of between four to six percent. That is simply unacceptable. What is worse is that management have imposed this disgraceful pay offer on agency workers at the site – demonstrating their total lack of respect for the collective bargaining processes.

“The Interface Europe workforce can count on the continuing support of Unite in their dispute. Standing together and standing strong they will defend themselves and their families during this cost of living crisis.”

He claimed: “This is a company which can well-afford to pay these workers what they are seeking – an inflation-proof pay increase.

“This dispute is not just about a pay increase it’s about being treated with respect. These workers are determined to win both through this all-out strike action.”

What the company said

Eline Oudenbroek, Vice President Supply Chain, Interface EMEA said “We have worked tirelessly over the past few months, in partnership with Unite union representatives, to understand the specific needs and concerns of our Craigavon team members. We believe the package offered as a part of our annual salary negotiations remains highly competitive considering the current challenging and ever-changing business conditions. We review and adjust our employment benefits and practices each year to ensure we remain a responsible, supportive, and attractive employer. 

“Interface has proudly manufactured commercial carpet tile in Craigavon for 40 years. The team is a valued part of our global manufacturing operation, and we are committed to continuing our conversations with Unite and our colleagues to find a satisfactory resolution for us all.”

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