Merseyside glassmakers employed by Pilkington are being balloted for strike action over the company’s failure to deliver a promised 2.5 per cent pay rise, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Friday 29 January). 

More than 100 Unite members at glassmaker Pilkington’s Cowley Hill and Greengate sites in Saint Helens will be balloted for strike action, after the company refused to implement the rise, which was agreed with Unite members in 2019 and set to take effect in March 2020. 

Unite said it believed the historic company, which was founded in 1826 and is now owned by the Japanese Nippon Sheet Glass group, had budgeted for the pay increase but had used the pandemic as an opportunity to not honour the agreement.  

The ballot for strike action opened on 28 January and will close on Thursday 11 February. 

Unite regional officer Joey Swift said: “Our members perform a gruelling job at extreme temperatures, literally putting their all into delivering for the business day in day out, including during the Covid-19 crisis. 

“This dispute has been going on for nearly a year now. Despite management being well aware of the workforce’s growing anger, they have refused to enter into any meaningful discussions with Unite.

“We believe that Pilkington had budgeted for the pay increase, but decided to use the disruption caused by the pandemic opportunistically to renege on the agreement. Pilkington’s staff unfailingly carry out physically and mentally demanding work and deserve to be properly rewarded for it with the pay rise that was promised to them.

“It is a shame that Pilkington’s disregard for its staff has led to this ballot being called, however after consultation with our members it is clear that staff have had enough. 

“Strike action at the Greengate glassmaking site and Cowley Hill works will cause severe disruption for the company’s UK supply chain.

“This is a backward step in what has traditionally been a productive and collaborative working relationship between Pilkington and Unite. As ever, Unite is happy to talk and help find a resolution for the benefit of all parties.”


During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.