For the first time in the history of pharmaceutical giant GSK, UK workers have voted for industrial action in a dispute over pay.


Derisory offer


The workers, members of Unite the union, recorded an 86 per cent yes vote in favour of strike action in response to GSK making a derisory pay offer of just 2.75 per cent, a substantial real terms pay cut for the workforce, with the true rate of inflation (RPI) currently standing at nine per cent.


Unite says that GSK now has a short 48 hour-window of opportunity to make a much-improved offer or strike action will be announced.


First time vote for strike action


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Never before have our members at GSK voted for strike action – their anger is a clear response to the company’s colossal corporate greed. 


“GSK pocketed more than £34 billion in profits last year yet expects its workforce to swallow a pay cut in the midst of a cost of living crisis. As the strength of our members’ vote shows, this is simply not acceptable – I’m backing Unite members and their demand that GSK thinks again.


“Unite members have their union’s total support in their pursuit of a fair deal.”


Mega profits 


In 2021, GSK, which produces household medicines like Sensodyne and Panadol along with medications for combatting critical illnesses, made £34.1 billion in profits. The company’s chief executive Emma Walmsley saw her pay increase by 17 per cent last year, receiving £8.2 million.


Huge mandate 


Unite national officer Tony Devlin said: “Our members at GSK have delivered a huge mandate in favour of strike action. Even at this late stage Unite has offered GSK a small window in which to make an improved offer and to avoid the inevitable disruption to production that will occur if strike action takes place.”




Notes to editors:


Unite’s members were balloted at the following sites Montrose and Irvine in Scotland; Ware in Hertfordshire; Worthing in West Sussex; Barnard Castle in Durham; and Ulverston in Cumbria.


GSK workers to vote on strike action over pay as pharma-giant accused of ‘cast-iron corporate greed’


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Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.