Belfast Telegraph

Newry building supplies firm staff vote to strike

By Rachel Martin

Staff at a building and plumbing supplies firm in Newry have voted to strike over pay and overtime.

Trade union Unite said the strike among members at the Haldane Fisher branch was over an "unreasonable pay increase" offer of 2.25%.

Haldane Fisher employs 150 people in Newry and almost 300 people across Northern Ireland. The ballot was taken with a turnout of 40 workers.

The industrial action will involve a ban on overtime work and 12 days of strike action. Unite regional officer Sean Smyth said: "On a ballot with a turnout of 40 workers, workers voted for strike action with a majority of 90% in pursuit of the demand of a decent pay increase.

"Management has offered a measly 2.25% increase which fails to reflect the reality that workers have endured years of below inflation pay increases and pay freezes in order to safeguard the future of the company in difficult times.

"Now that Haldane Fisher is enjoying increased profits on a substantially increased turnover, it is time that the workforce's productivity and contribution are recognised with a real cost-of-living pay increase."

In its latest registered accounts for the year ending December 31, 2014, the company had pre-tax profits of £1.6m.

A spokesman for the firm said: "The company continues to engage with employee representatives in an effort to agree a solution. Therefore it would not be appropriate to comment any further at present."

Meanwhile, 26 jobs could be at risk at Antrim Carpets, according to Unite.

Mr Smyth claimed rent had not been paid on its premises at Kennedy Way in west Belfast. He said an unnamed investor was interested in backing the business for five years, securing employment, but was not willing to pay the outstanding rent bill.

The figure is thought to run into more than £200,000.

Belfast Telegraph