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Pickets in action at Manchester factory in dispute over pay

PICKETS were in action today at a Manchester factory in a dispute over pay.

Polyflor at Whitefields in Manchester produces floor coverings at three sites: in Whitefields, Oldham and Tyneside.

More than 120 Whitefields workers are members of GMB, but the other two sites are not unionised.

Workers at the Whitefields factory rejected a below-inflation pay rise of 2 per cent and are striking for two-hour strikes a week every Wednesday and Thursday.

The management deal has been accepted at the non-unionised factories.

Polyflor GMB representative John Waddington told the Morning Star: “Last year during lockdown there was no increase. The union accepted that but saw it as a deferment.

“We put in a claim for four per cent for 2020/21 and 4 per cent for 2021/22.

“Now the employer has said they are ‘uncomfortable’ talking about a pay rise for last year and that it is ‘inappropriate.’ They wanted to cross last year out and forget about it.”

GMB proposed a compromise two-year deal including a 3 per cent back-dated increase for last year. The company rejected it and the workers voted to strike.

Waddington said that workers at the non-unionised company’s sites are represented by a “forum” comprising of two shop floor workers, two office staff, two managers and a company director.

“Their acceptance of the company’s deal was a diktat,” he said.

The Polyflor strikers have created their own picket-line character “Poly Parrot” wielding a placard stating: “Where’s our pieces of eight!?”

Mr Waddington added: “The company is awash with cash. They have £90 million in the bank and pay out £40m to £50m a year in dividends.”

Polyflor was invited to comment.

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