Pending strike action at Luton's Vauxhall plant will 'inevitably affect vehicle production', says Unite

Contract workers hit out at outsourcing firm over 'poverty pay'

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 9:19 pm

Vauxhall's Luton plant is facing the prospect of strike action from Thursday over what the Unite Union calls 'poverty pay'.

And the union says the action will "inevitably" impact on vehicle production at the Kimpton Lane plant, which has already seen job losses and a cut in shift patterns in October this year, after being hit by a global shortage of vital components due to the pandemic.

Workers employed by the outsourcing giant Mitie, working on a contract at the Vauxhall factory, are expected to begin strike action in a dispute over pay.

The Vauxhall plant on Kimpton Lane (Getty Images)

The union says the workers, who are employed in cleaning roles as well as in the jig and tool departments, are paid as little as £9 an hour, just nine pence above the national minimum wage.

Unite regional officer Andy Faughnan said: “The strike action will inevitably result in delays and disruption to production at the Vauxhall factory but this is entirely a result of Mitie believing it can get away with paying poverty rates.

“Even at this eleventh hour strike action could still be averted if Mitie made a dramatically improved pay offer and returned to the negotiating table.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Mitie is a multi-million pound company, it is shocking that workers are on such low rates of pay and it is disgraceful that the company is not currently prepared to address these issues.

“Unite’s absolute priority is the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. While the workers at Mitie at the Luton Vauxhall plant are in dispute they will be receiving the full and total support of the union.”

The union says Mitie refused to make a pay increase anywhere approaching the workers' expectations. A strike ballot was then called and the 30 workers, who are members of Unite, recorded a 96 per cent vote in favour of strike action.

The first strike is set to begin on Thursday, December 9 at 10pm and ends at 7.59am on Saturday, December 11. A further strike will begin on Thursday, December 16 and end on Saturday, December 18.

A statement on Mitie's website describes the company: "As a responsible business that embraces the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we seek to unlock social value that creates positive economic, environmental and social impacts. This bold ambition ensures that we play our part in delivering the exceptional, every day for our customers, our people, the communities we support and the world in which we live."

A Mitie spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that Unite has made the decision to take industrial action. Our priority remains working with all parties to find a resolution, while ensuring we maintain services for our customer.”

A Vauxhall spokesman said: "Mitie provides cleaning and environmental services at our Luton plant. We are currently in dialogue with our trade union partners, Unite the Union, and Mitie to avert any industrial action taking place."