Strike ballot to be held at Fermanagh factory

AFTER workers at Balcas rejected a ‘below inflation pay increase’, a major strike ballot of the workforce at the Fermanagh-based company is set to take place.
According to Unite the Union, the strike ballot will commence on Tuesday, April 16. It will remain open for three weeks, concluding on Tuesday, May 7.
Sharon Graham, the General Secretary of Unite the Union, said that Balcas and Glennon Brothers can ‘easily afford’ to introduce a pay increase for their workforce.
“Balcas and Glennon Brothers are highly successful and profitable companies operating. They can easily afford to provide a fair pay increase,” she said.
“Their failure to do so is a cynical attempt to further boost profits at the expense of workers’ wellbeing.
“Unite [the Union] always focuses on the jobs, pay and conditions of its workers and the Balcas workforce can be certain of the total support of Unite.” concluded the Unite the Union General Secretary.
According to Unite the Union, workers at the Killadeas-based firm are paid as little £10.68 an hour, which is only now being increased to £11.44 an hour to comply with national minimum wage legislation.
The workers at Balcas mill submitted a pay claim seeking a cost of living pay increase to maintain pay differentials with the legal minimum.
They also applied for the introduction of a sick pay scheme and a one day increase in holiday entitlement.
Gareth Scott, the Regional Officer for Unite the Union, urged the management team at Balcas to ‘return to the table’ with a better offer for staff.
“Working in a saw mill is a tough and challenging job and the pay these workers receive just doesn’t reflect that reality,” he said.
“Management needs to recognise the mounting severity of this industrial dispute. It can only be resolved if management returns to the table with a pay offer that meets our members’expectations.”
In 2022, it was reported that Balcas’ turnover increased by 7.6 per cent, while operating costs fell. Profit increased by 190 per cent, to £19.4 million.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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