Usdaw members in Northern Ireland vote “Yes” to further strikes over pay

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Usdaw members employed by Primark in Northern Ireland have once again voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action in protest at the company’s decision to impose a two year pay freeze.

In a second official ballot that closed today, Usdaw members voted 87.7% to 12.3% in favour of taking strike action. Usdaw reps at Primark will meet next week to decide on the form and timing of any industrial action.

In 2010, Usdaw members very reluctantly agreed to accept a pay freeze following lengthy negotiations that involved the Labour Relations Agency (LRA). That decision was taken on the understanding that the company would not expect employees to accept a pay freeze for two years running. Despite this, Primark again refused to offer any pay increase for 2011/2012, despite further attempts by the LRA to help reach a settlement.

Usdaw has urged the company to return to the negotiating table to try and reach a negotiated settlement and avoid what would be a costly and damaging dispute.

The ballot result comes in the week Primark announced ‘good’ trading since New Year, with like for like sales growth of 2% and first half revenue 15% up on the previous year. In January, the company announced an ‘exceptional’ Christmas trading period and sales figure that were 16% up on the same period last year.

Usdaw area organiser Nicola Scarborough said: “The overwhelming vote in favour of industrial action reflects the anger our members feel at the way Primark is treating its loyal and long-serving workforce and it underlines their determination to achieve a fair pay deal. We hope the company will now recognise this and return to the negotiating table with a meaningful pay offer.

“With prices continuing to soar and government cuts to tax credits and other benefits really about to bite, our members simply can’t afford to accept what is effectively a pay cut for the second year running.

“There is no question of Primark being unable to afford a decent pay rise. Sales at the company continue to increase by double digits and in the past two years Primark has made profits of £644 million. It’s time for Primark to recognise the exceptional contribution its staff are making to this success.”


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