Unite, the country’s biggest union, is urging Leeds-based bus and coach manufacturer Optare to settle a dispute over workers’ holiday entitlement, following rock solid support for today’s (Tuesday 27 May) 24-hour walkout as workers vow to strike again on Monday 2 June.
Members of Unite, involved in the design, manufacture and sale of single and double decker buses for global giant Optare, started a 24-hour stoppage from 06.00 today (Tuesday 27 May) outside the Optare site in Sherburn, near Leeds. The dispute is over the company’s two-week summer shutdown proposals, which will see workers forced to take their annual leave in the middle of August when the average price of a family holiday can be up to 92 per cent higher.
The union warns that the first of two planned 24-hour stoppages and an overtime ban from Friday (23 May) has already hit production with the company losing a minimum of two buses a day as it struggles to fill orders. In a further blow to the company, drivers delivering to the site have today refused to cross the picket line in solidarity with striking workers.
The 170 strong workforce voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action (81 per cent) following Optare’s refusal to work with the union to find a satisfactory resolution to the dispute. Unite offered a number of compromises including support for a shorter period of shutdown – one week as opposed to two – which the company refused.
Tony Murphy, Unite national officer, said: “Today’s strike has been rock solid – our members are standing firm against the company’s attempts to impose a two week holiday shutdown in the height of the summer season when the cost of a family holiday skyrockets.
“Drivers delivering goods to the site have today refused to cross the picket line, giving our members a much needed boost. The decision to strike is never taken lightly but forcing workers to take their annual leave at peak time is grossly unfair.
“Our members have always enjoyed flexibility in their holiday entitlement and we do not believe that Optare has a strong enough case to justify a forced summer shutdown.
“Unite is calling on Optare to get back around the table to find a solution so that workers can get back to the job of making buses and coaches.”
For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
- 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.
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