Belfast Telegraph

InterfaceFLOR staff to strike over pay row

A TOTAL of 85 carpet workers will go on strike in Craigavon next week in a row over pay and pensions.

The employees at American-owned InterfaceFLOR will down tools after the company decided not to offer its Northern Ireland workforce a pay rise while agreeing to a one-off payment of up to £500 in England.

The business expressed disappointment at the strike despite the fact that another meeting is scheduled with the union.

Sean McKeever, regional industrial organiser with Unite the union, said: "The company has refused to enter into negotiations with locally-based management and has instead brought in a team from England to conduct talks.

"The management team made up of a human resources officer and a director are now refusing to meet with their employee representatives to discuss the breakdown in pay talks."

The workers are also involved in a row about the ending of the company pension scheme.

They go on continuous strike on Monday.

Mr McKeever added: "We are led to believe that the sister plant in England (Halifax, West Yorkshire) have been offered a one-off payment.

"The people in Northern Ireland are being treated less favourably. than their counterparts in England."

Steve Martin, operations director of InterfaceFLOR, said: "We can confirm that we have not received any clear proposal from the union on what their demands are.

"We are therefore surprised that strike action is planned ahead of the meeting we have already arranged with our full-time officer from Unite for the following day (January 26) when any issues could have been discussed.

"We do not believe that strike action is warranted at Craigavon where we have worked hard to maintain pay without cutting staff throughout very difficult trading conditions.

"We enjoy good staff retention rates and industrial relations and hope this will continue.

"However, times are very hard and InterfaceFLOR is not going to compromise the strength of the business by agreeing to any settlement that would jeopardise our future or that of our staff."