Drivers working for landscape products group Marshalls started voting today (Tuesday 3 May) for industrial action in an overtime pay dispute, amid claims that a manager swore at a group of drivers over participating in the ballot.
A total of 110 drivers, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, are voting on whether to take strike action and/or industrial action short of a strike. The ballot closes on Tuesday 17 May.
Unite claims that a manager at the St Ives depot in Cambridgeshire swore at a group of about 24 drivers while addressing them on the ballot – all but three of them walked out in protest at the haranguing.
The dispute with Marshalls is about the disparity in overtime payments for the drivers that deliver to customers from 14 manufacturing sites across the UK – the drivers receive time and a third for overtime worked, while manufacturing employees get time and a half.
The two biggest customers of Marshalls are Travis Perkins with 1,900 outlets and Jewson with more than 600 branches, which face possible disruptions to supplies if strike action goes ahead.
The overtime dispute is given extra edge by the fact the company’s chief executive Martin Coffey received an 87 per cent increase in his remuneration package last year, taking it to over £2 million a year.
Unite national officer for building trades, John Allott said: “We are starting balloting our members today on industrial action in this overtime pay dispute.
“But already the tone of the dispute has turned bitter as this manager in Cambridgeshire has already allegedly sworn at a group of our members for engaging in their legitimate right to hold a strike ballot.
“We urge Marshalls not to verbally threaten or intimidate our members.
“We are calling for fairness on the pay issue, especially given the massive hike in Martin Coffey’s executive pay.
“The two biggest customers of Marshalls - Travis Perkins and Jewson will be severely hit, with a big ripple effect on their own customers, if strike action goes ahead.
“We call on the company to sit down and negotiate on the issue of our members’ overtime pay, so we can reach a fair settlement.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.