Unite the union members, working at the Vista Therm factory based at the Silverwood industrial estate in Lurgan have returned a unanimous vote for strike action.
The union lodged notice of a first day of strike action on Friday, July 14 with plans for a further escalation in the absence of a positive response from management.
Unite have claimed that the strike follows “a refusal of management at the company to engage in pay negotiations”.
They added: “Management have signalled that they no longer recognise the trade union despite a collective bargaining agreement existing within the workplace since 2007”.
Vista Therm is part of Lehr Limited Partnership, a campany registered in Jersey, and is a highly successful and profitable business.
Sales at Vista Therm have ramped up 31.5% since 2017 reaching £18.3 million in 2021 when the company’s pre-tax profits were £915k.
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham welcomed the strength of the ballot for industrial action.
“The fact that the ballot for strike action was passed unanimously confirms the strength of feeling among the workers,” she said.
“It is disgraceful that management are attempting to avoid negotiating a pay increase with their own employees by claiming that they no longer recognise a longstanding union recognition agreement.
“It is particularly disgraceful that management at Vista Therm have engaged in anti-union manoeuvres ahead of this ballot closing. Unite will not tolerate such disrespectful behaviour. The workers at Vista Therm deserve an inflation proof pay increase and respect from their employer – they will have Unite’s full support until they win those objectives.”
Regional Officer for the workforce is Neil Moore who explained the motivation for the strike.
“Our members report an oppressive workplace culture at Vista Therm,” said Mr Moore. “Their feelings of being exploited have been redoubled through the attempt by management to de-recognise their trade union and not engage in pay negotiations. These workers have had enough.
“Our pay claim is for an extra 13.5% – and would cost approximately £655k. For these low-paid workers, that translates into an extra £59.40 a week but would offer genuine protection in the current cost of living crisis.
“Over the last five years, the profits of this company are sufficient to easily afford such a pay increase and still deliver consistent profits – there is no excuse for the approach of management.
“Unite the union has notified the employer that the first day of strike action by workers will be on July 14th. This will shut down production and will be followed up by further strike dates in an escalation should management persist in refusing to come to the table with an inflation-proof pay increase for our members.”
Armagh I has approached Vista Therm for comment.