Caterpillar NI workers will continue their strike for another two months

Workers at the Springvale, Belfast and Larne production sites of generator maker Caterpillar are to continue the strike for another two months, Unite the Union has confirmed.

The union said the strike would continue to “escalate” until the company “gives these workers a fair wage increase”.

The protracted dispute revolves around a rejected pay deal, with the action having already lasted eight weeks.

Last month, Caterpillar told the Belfast Telegraph it had “negotiated in good faith” with the union on a 9 per cent pay rise from April 1, 2022.

They said that despite the action at the factories, they were “committed to maintaining operations at its facilities for the duration of the action.”

The US-based company reported operating profits in Northern Ireland of just over £7m last year, on sales of £439m in 2020. This compares to a loss of £13.6m in 2019, although this includes a one-time impairment of £21.7m. charge, the depreciation of the value of a fixed asset.

The company had also set aside more than £20million in redundancy costs last year as it continued to drastically reduce operations at its Larne manufacturing plant.

Caterpillar in Northern Ireland had previously said up to 700 people would be made redundant from its Co Antrim plant as part of what it described as a restructuring away from manufacturing, with union Unite then describing the job losses as “devastating news” for the Caterpillar workforce.

Unite regional manager George Brash said: “Caterpillar’s refusal to enter into negotiations – despite being asked to do so twice by the Labor Relations Agency in the past eight weeks – does not shows no respect for its workers.

“As such, they leave them no choice but to confirm the extension of their strike action for another eight weeks.

“With a cost of living crisis, Caterpillar needs to show accountability and make a real compensation offer to protect our members’ livelihoods.”

Caterpillar NI has been contacted for a response.

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